Your pelvic bones provide support for your internal organs and a sturdy base for your legs. A fracture to any portion of your pelvis requires immediate medical attention. Even after your emergency room visit or hospital stay, you will likely cope with pain from a broken pelvis for some time. Pain management techniques can provide some relief.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Pelvic Bone Structure
Your pelvis is not a single bone, but a series of bony structures that form a ring at the base of your torso. The flared crest that you refer to as your hip bone is the ilium. This crest forms an attachment point for major abdominal and leg muscle groups. It's connected to the pubic bone or pubis in front; the paired pubic bones meet at the pubic symphysis, a band of cartilage rather than a bone. The coccyx and sacrum make up the back surface of the pelvis, while the pair of ischium bones protrude from the bottom of the pelvic girdle to lend support to leg muscles. A break to any of these five pairs of bones causes severe pain.
Pelvic Fracture Treatment
Because of their location, pelvic bones cannot get support from a cast the way a broken limb might. Surgery to reassemble the pelvis and provide internal support via screws and plates is the most common treatment for moderate to severe breaks. Your doctor may only require bed rest if the fracture is small and does not affect the stability of the pelvic ring 1. After surgery, expect your doctor to recommend bed rest for several weeks or even months, depending on the severity and position of the fracture. Pain can arise not only from the break itself, but also from the treatment. Muscle pain and stiffness from weeks of disuse can cause ancillary pain.
Medical Pain Management
Swelling near the site of the break puts pressure on nerves, exacerbating pain. Anti-inflammatory medications that your doctor prescribes or recommends reduce swelling and pain. Healing bones ache as they rebuild themselves, so expect a broken pelvis to cause you pain throughout the healing process. Pharmacological pain relief includes narcotic medications that treat the pain itself and muscle relaxers that provide indirect pain relief as taut muscles loosen. Keep your doctor apprised of your pain levels to ensure that your medication dosage is sufficient to reduce your pain without unnecessarily altering your state of mind. Ask your doctor about drug interactions and be forthcoming about all the medications and supplements you take.
Alternative Pain Management Techniques
Pain affects your state of mind as well as your body, potentially causing anxiety and depression. Alternative pain management strategies address not only the pain of a broken pelvis, but also the effects of that pain on your mental well-being. Mindfulness meditation -- focusing your consciousness on something other than the pain -- may help ease pain as it reduces anxiety and restlessness. Guided meditation sessions let you visualize the healing taking place or take you to more pleasant surroundings. Ask your doctor about hydrotherapy -- using hot or cold water to provide pain relief -- after your surgical incisions heal. Physical therapy appropriate to your phase of the healing process can restore a greater range of motion and muscle tone that, while potentially uncomfortable during the session, reduces pain after you complete the therapy.
Physical therapy appropriate to your phase of the healing process can restore a greater range of motion and muscle tone that, while potentially uncomfortable during the session, reduces pain after you complete the therapy. Healing bones ache as they rebuild themselves, so expect a broken pelvis to cause you pain throughout the healing process. Alternative pain management strategies address not only the pain of a broken pelvis, but also the effects of that pain on your mental well-being.
- bojan fatur/iStock/Getty Images