|A broken bone in the lower body is a serious injury that requires hospital treatment. The pelvis is a large bone and is generally very difficult to break. Severe impact such as a fall from a height or a car accident are the most common cause in young, fit adults. In the elderly a broken pelvis (or hip) happens more often and can be caused by a relatively minor impact. In healthy adults it takes a major impact to break the thighbone and there are likely to be other injuries.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A BROKEN PELVIS
- Bruising and swelling over hip area
- Urge to urinate
- Blood-stained urine
- A sensation of falling apart: the pelvis is like a girdle and a break means that it may not be able to hold itself together
- Legs rotate outward as the support at the pelvis gives
Because the pelvis can also be broken at the back, it is easy to mistake a pelvic fracture for a spinal injury. If in doubt, treat for a broken spine.
The pelvis protects the urinary system and the biggest danger is the sharp bone ends may burst the bladder, creating the possibility of infection. Internal bleeding is another likelihood with a fractured hip, because the impact required to break the bone is likely to have caused other damage.
- Call an ambulance immediately and reassure the victim while you wait.
- This is a very serious condition and it is best not to move the victim because you could easily make things worse.
- If the ambulance will be some time, tie the legs gently together at the ankles and knees using triangular or improvised bandages.
- Treat the victim for shock.
FRACTURES OF THE UPPER LEG
The key risk with fractures of the femur (thigh bone) in the upper leg is shock. The thighbone protects the main artery in the leg, the femoral artery, and if broken may pierce it, causing severe internal bleeding.
A person with a broken thighbone will require transportation by ambulance. The general treatment is therefore nothing more than to immobilize the injured part and treat the victim for shock. Do not bandage the leg if help is on its way—this likely to cause more pain and potentially cause further damage.
Support the leg above and below the site of the fracture if possible, placing padding around the broken leg to further help to reduce movement of the injured limb.
If you have trained in the use of traction then you may apply this gently to the leg to help to reduce pain and circulatory damage.
The injured person may benefit from immobilization of the broken leg by using the good leg as a splint, particularly if there will be a delay before medical help arrives.
- Apply broad fold triangular bandages under the ankles, knees, and above and below the site of the fracture.
- Place padding between the legs to help immobilize them.
- Gently but firmly tie the bandages on the injured side.
- Take care to check thee circulation below the bandages to ensure that they do not become too tight as the leg swells.
A fractured thighbone may pierce the main artery in the leg, causing severe internal bleeding. The best treatment is to keep the limb still and treat the victim for shock.
Do not move the victim unless he is in danger or needs resuscitation.
- Do not give anything to eat or drink—the victim may need a general anesthetic in hospital.