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An overview of hip and pelvic injuries

The hip and pelvis are subjected to constant, demanding workloads while we go about daily tasks, making personal injuries to these areas both fairly common and a terrible inconvenience. The hip is the joint connecting the upper legs to the pelvis so if either the hip or pelvis is damaged mobility is greatly restricted.

Hip and pelvis injuries include dislocations and fractures as well as bruised and strained muscles. While damage to the hip and pelvis are often associated with motorcycle accidents, slip, trip and fall accidents, especially among the elderly, are the most common cause of such personal injuries.

Dislocations and fractures need immediate medical attention. During 1999, hip fractures accounted for around 338,000 hospital admissions in the US and of all fractures related to falls, hip fractures cause the greatest number of fatalities and lead to the most serious health problems and reductions in life quality.

Hip and pelvis injury types
There are a variety of personal injuries that affect the hip and pelvic areas. Here is a summary of some of the most commonly suffered conditions:

Hip bursitis
A bursa is basically a small jelly-like sac which contains fluid. It is designed to cushion the bones and overlying soft tissues, reducing friction between muscles and bones which constantly move back and forth. Bursae are located throughout the body and the most significant are around the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and heel.

A large bursa overlies the point of the hip, which is known as the greater trochanter and functions as an attachment point for several important muscles that move the hip joint. It is not unusual for this bursa to become irritated or inflamed and cause considerable pain, a condition called hip bursitis.

Hip bursitis can affect anyone at any age but is more common among women than it is men and middle-aged or elderly people than it is the young. Some common causes of this personal injury include repetitive overuse through running or cycling, bumping your hip on a hard surface, spinal diseases such as scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis, leg length inequalities and previous surgery to the hip.

Most cases of hip bursitis can be treated effectively with simple lifestyle changes such as:

Some tips to avoid inflammation of the bursa include:

Hip dislocation
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, which not only provides a great deal of stability but also allows the flexibility of movement. The round head of the thighbone (femur) fits neatly inside a cup-shaped socket (acetabulum) in the hipbone (pelvis). Considerable force is needed in order for the thighbone to pop out of its socket and this is known as a dislocation of the hip.

In the majority of cases the head of the thighbone is pushed out and back, leaving the hip in a fixed position, bent and twisted in towards the middle of the body. Alternatively, if the thighbone was to slip out and forward, the hip will be only slightly bent and the leg will twist out and away from the middle of the body.

This personal injury is extremely painful. The patient is unlikely to be able to move the leg and, if also suffering from nerve damage, they may lose feeling in the foot or ankle area.

The most common causes of hip dislocations include car accidents and industrial accidents, such as falling from a ladder. Other personal injuries commonly associated with hip dislocations include fractures to the pelvis and legs, back injuries or head injuries.

Diagnosis and treatment
A hip dislocation can usually be diagnosed when a doctor looks at the position of the leg. X-rays will then reveal whether any additional fractures to the hip or thighbone have occurred.

If no other complications are present, the physician will administer an anaesthetic and manipulate the bones back into their natural position. However, if there are complications the bones can be adjusted during surgery. Afterwards, the surgeon will request another set of X-rays and possibly a CT scan in order to ensure that the bones are now properly positioned.

It can take as long as two to three months for the hip to heal. The patient can probably begin walking with the aid of crutches once the pain diminishes and a walking aid should be used until the limp disappears.

Hip fracture
This is a serious personal injury that is characterised by severe pain, stiffness, bruising and swelling; the inability to place weight on the leg of your injured side and turning outward of the leg on your injured side.

Although a hip fracture can occur at any time, most hospital admissions for hip fractures are for people aged 65 and over. A simple explanation for this is that our bones become less dense and weaken as we age, making us more susceptible to personal injury.

Hip fractures in older patients usually result from trips and falls whereas younger adults will usually sustain a hip fracture as a result of a sports injury or car accident.

Diagnosis and treatment
Again, a doctor will be able to see that you have sustained a hip fracture by the abnormal position of your hip and leg however an X-ray will confirm the exact position of the fracture.

While the hip injury itself is treatable through surgery, there is the possibility for life-threatening complications to occur as some people suffer from illnesses which make them too unstable to undergo the strains of surgery.

The following steps can be taken to help avoid the risk of sustaining a hip fracture:

Pelvic fracture
The pelvis is a ring-like structure of bones located at the lower part of the abdomen, below the hip bones. Many of the digestive and reproductive organs are located within the pelvic ring. It is also where the muscles that reach down into the legs and up into the trunk of the body attach.

A fracture to the pelvis is a potentially serious personal injury and can be characterised by significant bleeding along with sensory and motor dysfunction. The most serious injuries will include damage to the organs.

Pelvic fractures are common among the elderly, especially those with osteoporosis; teenagers, especially those involved in sports; and those involved in accidents where a high-energy force has crushed the pelvic area.

A doctor may be able to determine a broken pelvis if a patient is complaining of pain, swelling and bruising or they are struggling to keep the hip and knee bent in a specific position in an effort to avoid aggravating pain further. On suspicion of a pelvic fracture, a doctor will give an X-ray from various different angles in order to determine the extent of bone displacement. A doctor may also wish to examine the blood vessels and nerves in the legs to check for damage.

Some stable fractures, such as the avulsion fracture, will heal without the need for surgery. However, many fractures will require surgical treatment. Analgesic pain killers to ease suffering and blood-thinning drugs to prevent blood clots from forming in the veins of the legs may be prescribed.

Serious pelvic fractures that result from high-energy trauma can be life-threatening as a result of damage to the organs, blood vessels and nerves. Doctors may use an external fixator, which has long screws that are inserted into the bones on both sides and attached to a frame outside the body in order to stabilise the pelvic area.

Mobility will obviously be affected for a good few months and walking with crutches or an alternative walking aid will be recommended so that you avoid putting pressure on the damaged area.

Compensation amounts for injuries to the pelvis and hips
The most severe injuries to the pelvis and hip can be as distressing as a leg amputation and accordingly will attract a similar compensation award:

Lesser injuries
Minor injuries with complete recovery: up to 2,150.

Cases where despite significant injury there is little or no lasting disability: 2,150 to 7,000.

Injuries of limited severity
Where hip replacement may be necessary in the foreseeable future or cases where hip replacement has been carried out wholly successfully: 6,750 to 14,750.

Significant injury to the pelvis or the hip but any permanent disability is not major and any future risk is not great: 14,750 to 21,500.

A fracture of the acetabulum leading to degenerative changes and leg instability requiring osteotomy and the likelihood of hip replacement in the future; the fracture of an arthritic femur or hip, needing hip replacement; or a fracture resulting in hip replacement which is only partially successful so that there is a clear risk of the need for further surgery: 21,500 to 28,500.

Fracture dislocation of the pelvis involving both ischial and pubic rami and resulting in impotence or traumatic myositis ossificans with formation of ectopic bone around the hip: 34,000 to 43,750.

Extensive fractures of the pelvis involving dislocation of a low back joint and a ruptured bladder; or a hip injury resulting in spondylolisthesis of a low back joint with intolerable pain and necessitating spinal fusion. Some substantial residual disabilities such as a complicated arthrodesis with resulting lack of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction or hip deformity making the use of a calliper essential; or may present difficulties when giving birth naturally: 43,750 to 71,500.

Making a personal injury claim today
If you have suffered a personal injury to the hip, pelvis or any other part of the body, through no fault of your own, then The Claim Solicitors are here to help.

Our panel of personal injury specialists have an excellent claim success rate and can help you to gain compensation for pain, suffering, lost earnings, medical expenses and much more.

We work on a no win, no fee basis. What this means is that, in the event your case is not successful, you won't be charged a penny. It means that making a claim is a completely risk free process - this lets you focus on getting better, not worrying about money.

If you would like more details about our cost-free compensation claim service or you would like to make a personal injury claim today, just call us on 0800 197 32 32.