Injuries can happen when you least expect them — and they can be disorienting and chaotic when they do occur. You may be in too much pain to help yourself, or it may be during a time when your primary care doctor’s office is closed. So how can you get help when you need it? And what can you do to treat the injury on your own? Find out what to do in the event of these very common injuries so you can keep yourself and others as safe as possible:
Broken Bone or Fracture
If you suspect you have broken or fractured a bone, you will need to seek medical attention. This is not an injury you should try to treat on your own. In general, the best course of action for broken bones is to head to the emergency room. However, if the break is not life-threatening, be prepared for a long wait. If the break is small, hasn’t broken the skin and is located in the wrist, hand, ankle or foot, an urgent care center can be used as a quicker and cheaper alternative to the emergency room.
Sprains and Strains
Mild sprains and strains can be treated at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation. If the symptoms do not go away with at-home treatment, you can visit your primary care doctor who may recommend further treatment options or that you make an appointment with a specialist. You can also visit an urgent care center if your primary care doctor’s office is not open and you would like immediate care for any pain or swelling.
Cuts can range greatly in severity. If you have received a cut, it is important to evaluate your injury so that you can seek the appropriate treatment. If the cut is minor, it can be successfully treated at home with clean water, bandages and antibiotic ointment. With any bleeding cut, pressure should be applied to the area immediately to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding is severe and can’t be stopped after 10 minutes of firm, steady pressure, or if blood is spurting out, you should call 911 and seek emergency medical treatment immediately. A deep cut requiring stitches is best treated in the emergency room. However, some urgent care centers are equipped to handle those non-life-threatening cuts that may need a stitch or two.
Head injuries are common, especially in active households. While some head injuries are simply a bump on the head, others can lead to lifelong impairments or even death. If you have hit your head, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A primary care doctor or urgent care center are good places to go if you have hit your head and simply want confirmation that no major damage has been done. They can tell you if you need treatment for a concussion and what steps or medications to take for your injury. However, if you are experiencing severe pain, dizziness, vision problems, inability to move limbs, memory loss and trouble communicating, or any of these other symptoms, it’s time to call 911.
One minute, you’re having fun cooking your favorite meal, the next minute, your arm is in scalding pain. While painful, most burns can be treated quickly at home by holding the affected area under a tap running cool or room-temperature water. If the burn is not life-threatening, you can head to your primary care doctor or an urgent care center for treatment and pain relief. If the burn is larger and includes swelling and blisters, it may be a major burn. Major burns require immediate medical attention and you should call 911 or head to the emergency room for treatment.
Remember, when in doubt, ALWAYS opt for emergency medical care. An urgent care center is a great alternative to the emergency room if your injury is not life-threatening but needs immediate attention. However, if you are unsure whether or not your injury is immediately life-threatening, it’s better to be on the safe side and call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.