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Physical Therapy for a Fractured Pelvis – Information, Exercises, and More

Recovering from a fractured pelvis can feel like an uphill battle. The injury itself is painful, and navigating post-surgery is no small task. 

Luckily, physical therapy can help you move past your pelvic fracture, reduce your pain, and help you restore strength, mobility, balance, and function.

Read on to learn about physical therapy for a fractured pelvis, treatment options, and the best exercises to get you moving comfortably again.

physical therapy for pelvic fracture


What Causes a Fractured Pelvis?

A fractured pelvis can result from a low-impact or high-impact event. 

The most common causes include high-impact trauma, which results from:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls from significant heights; or 
  • Sports-related injuries

Another less common cause may include osteoporosis, which weakens the bones, or other medical conditions that may predispose individuals to spontaneous fractures with minimal force.

Pelvic fractures are often classified as either:

  • Stable — in which the pelvis has one break point in the pelvic ring, limited bleeding, and the bones are staying in place; or 
  • Unstable — in which there are two or more breaks in the pelvic ring with moderate to severe bleeding

A third type of fracture occurs when there is complete disruption of the posterior complex in fractures that are both rotationally and vertically unstable. Posterior injuries more commonly result from high impact and cause a lot of tissue disruption and potentially significant bleeding.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

A study found that the most common mechanisms of pelvic fracture were traffic-related in 59% of all cases, followed by fall from height, in 33% of cases examined.

Pelvic fractures resulting from motor vehicle accidents are often severe and potentially life-threatening injuries. The immense force involved in collisions can cause significant trauma to the pelvis. 

These fractures can occur in different patterns, including stable, unstable, or complex fractures involving multiple pelvic bones. 

Prompt medical attention is crucial in managing these fractures to prevent complications and long-term disability. 

Falls From Significant Heights

The impact forces generated upon landing can cause the pelvis to absorb a tremendous amount of energy, leading to a pelvic fracture. 

These fractures can range from stable to highly unstable, with likely subsequent injuries to organs and blood vessels. 

Sports-Related Injuries

Low-impact pelvic fractures most commonly occur in young adults, who experience fractures resulting from an athletic injury or an activity like jogging. 

While relatively uncommon, pelvic fractures can occur due to sports-related injuries, particularly in high-impact or contact sports. These fractures can result from direct trauma to the pelvis or as a result of stress fracture due to excessive use.

Those who play football, hockey, rugby, skiing, or go horseback riding may carry a higher risk of sustaining a fractured pelvis. 

Pelvic stress fractures also can occur from repetitive impact activities, like ballet or gymnastics.

Other factors that may predict the risk of stress fractures include bone health, training, nutrition, and biomechanical factors. 

Fractured Pelvis Symptoms

The most noticeable signs of a pelvic fracture are often pain and difficulty walking or standing. 

Some severe fractures may even cause difficulty urinating or bleeding from pelvic cavities due to the fracture’s proximity to major blood vessels.

Another main symptom of a pelvic fracture is pain in the groin, hip, or lower back, which may get worse when walking or moving the legs.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the groin or legs
  • Bleeding from the vagina, urethra, or rectum 
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty walking or standing

Additionally, a pelvic stress fracture that occurs while jogging may cause pain in the thigh or rear. 

Fractured Pelvis Treatment

The treatment options for a fractured pelvis depend on the severity and specific characteristics of the fracture. Generally, treatment can involve both conservative (non-surgical) and surgical approaches.

If the fracture is considered minor, conservative treatment may include:

  • Pain management
  • Immobilization with a brace or cast; and 
  • Physical therapy to gradually regain mobility and strength

For severe pelvic injuries, surgery is often necessary for unstable fractures or when there is significant displacement, suspected internal bleeding, or damage to internal organs.

Surgery aims to realign and stabilize the pelvic bones using pins, plates, screws, or rods. 

Post-surgery, rehabilitation and physical therapy are essential for recovery, restoring function, and optimizing long-term outcomes.

A recommended rehabilitation plan might start with passive motions to the leg and hip joint, completed by a physical therapist, and transition to more involved exercises and stretches that require action on your part. 

Manual therapy is also a common rehab treatment option to improve muscle flexibility and increase mobility in the hip, spine, and pelvis following a fracture. 

Is Physical Therapy Good for a Fractured Pelvis?

Yes, physical therapy for a pelvic fracture is very beneficial. Through exercises, stretches, and specialized techniques, physical therapy can: 

  • Help manage pain
  • Restore hip, spine, and leg mobility
  • Promote and increase healing
  • Enhance recovery and flexibility
  • Improve strength and function 
  • Increase overall quality of life for the recovering patient

What Is the Best Exercise for a Fractured Pelvis?

The best physical therapy pelvic fracture exercises will vary depending on your condition, the severity of the fracture, and the current stage of recovery. 

Some commonly recommended exercises include:

  1. Gentle range-of-motion exercises
  2. Pelvic floor exercises
  3. Gluteal and hip strengthening exercises
  4. Quadriceps and hamstring strengthening exercises
  5. Walking and weight-bearing activities

Some pelvic fracture exercises are done lying on your back, some are done seated, and others require a transition to standing or walking. 

Before starting any exercises after a pelvic fracture, let a Doctor of Physical Therapy, like the ones at In Motion O.C., design a personalized exercise program tailored to your injury’s specific needs and your realistic recovery prognosis.

Range-Of-Motion Exercises

Pelvic fracture physical therapy to maintain joint flexibility and prevent stiffness will likely include range-of-motion exercises, such as:

  • Ankle pumps
  • Knee bends; and 
  • Hip rotations

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles will help improve core stability and bladder control, and might include:

Keep in mind that some pelvic floor exercises may seem familiar at first glance, but a professional therapist will deeply analyze how you’re doing the movements and show you how to properly perform them for the best results during your recovery.

Gluteal and Hip-Strengthening Exercises

Glute and hip strengthening exercises can help improve your stability and mobility following a pelvic fracture.

Your physical therapist might suggest:

  • Bridges
  • Clamshells; and
  • Hip abductions and adductions

Quadriceps and Hamstring Strengthening Exercises

Quad and hamstring strengthening exercises target the thigh muscles and aid in restoring strength and balance.

These may include:

  • Leg extension
  • Straight leg raises; and
  • Leg lifts 

Walking and Weight-Bearing Activities

Weight-bearing activities, where your bones support your weight unassisted, should only be completed under the watch and recommendation of a doctor or physical therapist. 

This might include gradually increasing walking distance, or any exercise on your feet that is completed unassisted, like squats.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With a Fractured Pelvis

Whether you’re recovering from a stable or unstable pelvic fracture, In Motion O.C. can help you reach your recovery goals through exercises and treatments tailored to the severity of your specific injury and your needs.

Our physical therapists have helped dozens, if not hundreds, of people to recover from various ailments, including dislocated hips, pelvic floor weakness, and knee replacements.

We are also proud to say that In Motion O.C. is #1 among physical therapists — and we have client testimonials and case studies on our website so you can hear directly from our patients.

Let our therapists work with you one-on-one to determine the best approach for your recovery through customized physical therapy for a fractured pelvis.

Contact In Motion O.C. today for a free screening.


 The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.


In Motion O.C.