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What are some causes of a broken pelvis in elderly patients?

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Quick Answer

In elderly patients, the most common cause of a broken pelvis is a fall from a standing position, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. High-energy impacts, such as those that occur during motor vehicle accidents or crush injuries, can also cause broken pelvises in elderly patients.

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Full Answer

Elderly patients often have weakened bones due to osteoporosis, so if they fall, their bones are more likely to fracture, explains Merck Manual. A fall that results in a broken pelvis may occur when exiting a bathtub, walking down stairs or walking on level ground. This type of fall may fracture a pelvic bone but is unlikely to cause pelvic instability or peripheral damage to other internal structures, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Anyone, including an elderly person, involved in a high-impact motor vehicle crash, receives a severe blow, sustains a crush injury or falls from a significant height may sustain a broken pelvis, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. These fractures are often unstable, may damage internal organs and nerves and may cause shock due to bleeding.

Pain, swelling and bruising are possible symptoms of a broken pelvis, states Merck Manual. Depending on the severity of the injury, the patient may or may not be able to walk. X-rays and CT scans diagnose a broken pelvis. Treatment for patients with less severe fractures involves administration of pain relievers, rest and a gradual return to normal activities. Immobilization and surgery may be necessary for more severe injuries.

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