Getting Back To Normal After Injuring Your Pelvis
The severity of the injury and many other factors like age of the patient, location of the fracture, etc are considered to determine the mode of treatment. The course of recovery from a pelvic fracture goes through three main phases – surgery(if needed), physical therapy, rehabilitation and occupational therapy.
The pelvic region is comprised of the bones ilium, pubis, ischium, coccyx, sacrum and other bones that create a protective abdominal cavity that houses various vital organs. Treatment through surgery may be recommended after deciding on the severity of the injury. If the injury is a stable fracture which doesn’t deform the pelvic ring then an external casing might be used to keep the bones in proper alignment. Unstable fractures cause major disruption of the pelvic structure, which generally need surgical intervention for healing. Surgical treatment involves aligning the pelvic bones with the help of rods, screws and metal plates attached to the bones, partial replacement of bones or replacing the hip joint entirely.
- Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Physical therapy is an important part of the entire rehabilitation process for patients with pelvic injuries. Once the pelvis is ready to bear weights, physicians clear patients for physical therapy and rehabilitation. During physical therapy and the rehabilitation process, patients are exposed to upper body exercises which help them make better use of assistive gear like walkers and crutches for movement. Physical therapy may last from 6 to 12 weeks i.e. the entire healing duration and beyond that to reach pre-injury state. Once the fracture is stabilised, patients are introduced to lower body exercises to restore range of motion, strength and endurance. Most common exercises for recovery are
- Quadriceps sets
This exercise uses tension to strengthen the injured pelvic bone with the help of thigh muscles. The exercise involves lying on the bed on your back and tightening of the thigh muscle of the operated leg by pressing it down on the bed creating tension in the muscles. The tightening of the muscles is to be held for five seconds before relaxation and repeated in sets.
- Straight leg raises
Once you are comfortable with the quadriceps sets, the next step is to move on to straight leg raises. The straight leg raise is performed by raising the injured leg 12 to 18 inches off the bed. The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the damaged muscles and tissues surrounding the pelvic region responsible for movement.
- Gluteal sets
The gluteal muscles (buttock muscles) support the pelvic region, providing stability to the hip joint. The exercise involves tightly squeezing you buttocks for five seconds and then relaxing while lying on bed. Therapists begin with this exercise soon after the surgery as it doesn’t involve any direct movement while improving the strength and stability of the hip joint.
- Occupational therapy
Occupational therapy is used to work around the injury, so that a patient can perform his daily chores like bathing and toilet, food and dressing. The aim of occupational therapy programs is to perform upper-body strengthening and range of motion exercises with dumbbells and resistance bands to help patients function independently during the recovery period.
Healing of the fracture takes anywhere between six to twelve weeks but returning to the pre-injury state might take a year or more.