• Pelvic Injury

    The pelvis is a ring-shaped group of bones that provides support for the trunk; connects the trunk to the legs; and protects the bladder, the rectum, several major arteries and, in women, the reproductive organs. The hip joint is formed by the acetabulum (a cup-shaped indentation on the pelvis) and the upper part of the femur (the thigh bone).

    Blunt trauma to the pelvic region can result in pelvic fractures and damage to the internal organs, blood vessels and nerves that are normally protected by the pelvic bones. Usually pelvic fractures result from high-energy impacts (for example, a motor-vehicle collision), but in older adults with osteoporosis (a disease in which loss of bone tissue causes the bones to become fragile and prone to breaking), minor trauma or a fall can result in breaking the pelvis or the upper part of the femur where it forms the hip joint with the pelvis.

    Pelvic injuries are serious and may be life threatening because of the risk of damage to major arteries or internal organs. Fractures of bones in this area may cause severe internal bleeding and are associated with an increased risk for death in older adults.

    Emergency Steps


    Check the scene safety, form an initial impression, obtain consent and put on PPE, as appropriate.


    Check for signs and symptoms.

    • Severe pain*
    • Bruising or swelling*
    • Instability of pelvic bones*
    • Blood-tinged urine*
    • Loss of sensation in legs*
    • Inability to move legs*
    • Signs & symptoms of shock*

    *Note: Signs and symptoms with a * require immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Call 9-1-1 and get equipment if the person requires immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Give Care.

    General Care

    1. If head, neck or back injury suspected, leave in position found unless you must move for safety, to perform CPR or to control bleeding.
    2. Avoid moving the person unnecessarily.
      1. Try to keep the person lying flat.
    3. Continue checking them as appropriate to determine if additional care is needed.
    4. Keep them from getting cold or overheated.
    5. Give care for shock, if necessary.
    6. Watch for changes in condition, including breathing and responsiveness, and give care as appropriate and trained.

    Pelvic Injury FAQs

    Why shouldn’t I try to move a person with a pelvic injury to perhaps a more comfortable location?

    The key is not to move a person unnecessarily. Movement can make a pelvic injury worse, and people with pelvic injuries are at risk for having spine injuries as well.

    What is shock?

    Shock is a progressive, life-threatening condition in which the body does not get enough oxygen-rich blood often due to disturbed blood flow. As a result, organs and body systems begin to fail.

    Signs and symptoms include:

    • Rapid, weak heartbeat
    • Rapid breathing
    • Pale, gray or cool moist skin
    • Altered level of responsiveness
    • Excessive thirst

    Note: If you see any signs and symptoms of shock, call 9-1-1.

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