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Common Injuries - When Should You Visit an Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

Feburary 23, 2019 by HealthNeed Adminstrator

Common Injuries - When Should You Visit an Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room?

When you have an injury, you must make a quick decision about whether it is better to go to the nearest emergency room at a local hospital or if it is better to visit a medical facility that offers urgent care services. Medical services provided at urgent care centers are available faster than when you go to an emergency room, and it is the same or better quality of care. There are physicians, registered nurses, X-ray technologists and other medical personnel ready to help you with a diagnosis, treatment or medications, and you won't need to sit in a waiting room for several hours until someone is available to help you.

Here is how to determine if you should go to an emergency room or an urgent care center by understanding more about a common injury that incurs while you are at work, home or playing sports. 


Injury 1: Lacerations on the Hands or Other Areas of the Body 

If you have a laceration while working with a knife or other sharp implement, then you may need stitches to repair the damaged skin and underlying tissues. However, there is a choice between visiting an urgent care center or an emergency room.

When you are bleeding profusely with a deep cut that is large and life threatening, you should call the paramedics immediately while applying pressure to the wound. This is not the type of injury that can wait for several hours for treatment, and the paramedics will place you in an ambulance to take you to the hospital. For smaller lacerations that require stitches or that become infected, you can visit an urgent care for treatment. 



Injury 2: Is It a Sprain or Did You Break a Bone? 

When you fall on a slippery bathroom floor and injure a wrist or if you fall from a bicycle and have a swollen ankle, you may wonder if the wrist or ankle is broken or sprained. By using your eyes, you can see if a jagged bone has broken through the skin, and this is obviously caused by a compound fracture. In addition to pain and swelling, this injury will bleed.

Alternatively, you may not know if a bone is broken or if you have overstretched the muscles or tendons from a closed fracture. Problems with the wrist or ankle are treatable at an urgent care center, and if a physician does believe that you need complex surgery, then she will arrange to transport you to a hospital in an ambulance. However, if you are unable to walk or feel numbness after an injury, then you should call the paramedics for assistance.

Consider these problems that can occur during sports, and know where the nearest urgent care center is located:

  • Tennis elbow – can occur from other sports or daily activities 
  • Knee pain – caused by a trauma injury or repetitive movement 
  • Shin splints – intense muscle pain and cramping in the lower legs 
  • Hamstring strain – a sprain in the muscles in the inner thigh 


Injury 3: Do You Have a Head Injury? 

If you have a head injury, then you should have an examination to determine if it is a major problem. When you have lost consciousness from a blow to the head, you should always rush to the emergency room at a hospital, and in some cases, you should call the paramedics for help. However, if you have a bruise or a scrape on your scalp, then visiting an urgent care center is appropriate. Inform the receptionist that you have a head injury so that you will receive faster services with medical images to check for a concussion. 


Injury 4: Injuries to the Neck 

Injuries to the neck can become an emergency room problem when you have any numbness in your limbs, immobility, visual loss or other side effects. Whiplash from a vehicular collision is one of the most common types of injuries, but you don't necessarily need to visit an emergency room for this condition because medical experts at an urgent care facility can collect medical images of your neck and complete an examination to find problems with the bones, tendons or muscles. A physician can provide a supportive brace and special medications for the pain and muscle tightness. 



If you have sustained any of the non life-threatening injuries above, do not hesitate to reach out to HealthNeed Medical Urgent Care for immediate care.  We are here 7 days a week for all your urgent care needs.  For additional information, call us at 718-888-1808.

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