In the panic you might feel when you or a loved one has a painful injury, the next steps can be a mystery. How do you know whether it’s serious enough for an emergency room? Or mild enough to wait until you can schedule a doctor’s appointment?
Fortunately, there’s a middle ground. Urgent care clinics can treat injuries too urgent to wait for an appointment but not serious enough to require a hospital. For a more detailed guide, check out these top injuries that can be treated at an urgent care location.
Injuries that Can be Treated at an Urgent Care Location
The following are just a few common injuries that can be treated at urgent care:
Sprains are some of the most common sports injuries, especially ankle sprains and wrist sprains. They happen when a ligament in a joint is pulled or torn, like when your ankle twists at an odd angle.
Your body can heal minor sprains rather well, but the joint needs to be stabilized. Urgent care clinics can stabilize the joint and teach you how to limit the swelling and help the healing process.
Cuts that Need Stitches
Minor cuts can, of course, be treated at home with a bandage and antibiotic ointment. But it a cut is deep or gaping open, you need stitches to keep it from becoming infected.
An urgent care location is the perfect choice for stitches. It’s easier on your wallet than the emergency room but more prompt than a doctor’s office. The longer you wait to have your cut stitched, the greater the risk of a serious infection.
If, however, your cut is bleeding severely and you’re at risk of losing too much blood, an emergency room is necessary.
Splinters are common injuries, especially for kids or people who work with wood. They’re typically minor and can be removed with tweezers.
But if you aren’t able to remove a splinter, head to an urgent care center.
Some Broken Bones
Urgent care clinics can treat certain broken bones, but the key is knowing which ones. How do you know which fractures urgent care can treat?
If you have a very obvious broken bone that is displaced, you need an emergency room. You also need an ER if the fracture is in a dangerous area like the back or neck.
But if you have an injury that may just be a mild break, an urgent care clinic could be a good option. Most urgent care centers can perform x-rays to diagnose a fracture.
A strain occurs when the tendon (which connects muscle to bone) is pulled or torn. These are common sports injuries. Like sprains, a strain can typically be treated at an urgent care location.
As with broken bones, most burns can be treated at urgent care but some cannot. Extremely serious burns need an emergency room. But for burns when the skin is pink and blistered (not blackened), an urgent care clinic can offer effective treatment.
This doesn’t just apply to burns from injuries. Severe sunburns need medical treatment too.
Possible Mild Concussions
A concussion needs medical evaluation and potential treatment. A serious head injury warrants a trip to the hospital. But if you’ve hit your head and you don’t have obvious symptoms, urgent care can evaluate you for a concussion.
The trained medical professionals know what signs to look for and when you recommend you for further treatment. If you think you have a concussion, never go to sleep before you are evaluated.
What to Do if You Need Urgent Care
If you or a family member needs treatment for the injuries above, look for an urgent care location near you.