Merck Manual

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Quick Facts

Broken Pelvis

(Pelvic Fracture)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Apr 2019
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What is a broken pelvis?

Your pelvis is the large, complicated ring of bone that connects your legs and your backbone. It's actually made of several different bones held together by ligaments. Any of the bones in your pelvis can break. All broken bones are considered fractures. For more information, see Overview of Broken Bones.

  • A broken pelvis can be very serious depending on which bones are broken and how badly

  • A broken pelvis is painful, even when you're sitting or lying down

  • Severe pelvic fractures can cause heavy bleeding and other internal injuries

  • Depending on the type of fracture, doctors may treat you with just bed rest or you may need surgery

What causes the pelvis to break?

In young people, pelvic fractures are usually caused by:

  • High-speed car or motorcycle crashes

  • Getting hit by a cars

  • Falls from a high place

  • Sports injuries

Older people can get a broken pelvis from less severe injury, such as falling when they:

  • Get out of the bathtub

  • Walk downstairs

  • Trip on something on the ground

Osteoporosis weakens your bones and makes your pelvis more likely to fracture if you fall.

What are the symptoms of a broken pelvis?

Most pelvic fractures cause:

  • Pain in the groin area, even when you’re sitting or lying down

  • Severe pain if you try to walk

  • Swelling and bruising

  • Sometimes, blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, or bleeding from the pelvic area

How can doctors tell if my pelvis is broken?

Doctors do:

How do doctors treat a broken pelvis?

Doctors will treat a minor pelvic fracture by having you:

  • Rest in bed for a short time

  • Take pain medicine

  • Stand and walk as soon as you can

Doctors treat a severe pelvic fracture by first stabilizing the pelvis by wrapping it in cloth or a brace. Then doctors will:

  • Sometimes do surgery to put the bones back into place and use metal screws and plates to hold them there

  • Sometimes use an external fixator, a metal frame that’s connected to your body with long screws that go down through your skin into the bones

If you still have lots of bleeding, your doctor may try:

  • Embolization: Your doctor injects the bleeding blood vessels with something that can block the vessel and stop the bleeding

  • Pelvic packing: Your doctor does surgery to put materials in your pelvic area that soak up the blood and put pressure on the blood vessels to help them stop bleeding—once the bleeding stops a few days later, your doctor will do surgery again to take out the materials and fix your broken pelvis bones

After the broken bone heals, you'll need to do rehab exercises to get your strength back.

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