Emergency room or walk-in orthopedic urgent care: Choosing the right orthopedic care
An unexpected injury or sudden escalation in bone or joint pain can be worrying. On one hand, your pain is severe, concerning, or new - and you don't want to wait to schedule an appointment with an orthopedist. On the other hand, trips to the emergency room are time-consuming, expensive, and you may wonder if your symptoms are worth the trip.
Fortunately, for student-athletes, those with chronic orthopedic conditions like arthritis, and anyone else experiencing new bone, joint, or muscle pain, walk-in orthopedic urgent care is an option.
What is orthopedic urgent care?
Ortho urgent care is designed to provide fast care for musculoskeletal issues -- those dealing with the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Orthopedic urgent care is a great option for those who have experienced a sports injury, like a suspected ankle sprain. This service is also a good option for those who have a chronic orthopedic diagnosis like osteoarthritis and are experiencing a sudden change in symptoms or increase in pain.
Orthopedic urgent care is a walk-in service, which means you don't need an appointment to be seen by an orthopedic specialist, like Reid Health's Dorothy Lollathin, P.A., who has more than 15 years of experiencing treating orthopedic conditions. Usually this means you can be seen on the same day that you are experiencing symptoms.
"Walk-in orthopedic care is perfect for those who are experiencing new orthopedic pain," she says. "We want to be able to take care of you today rather than have you wait for an appointment."
It's important to know, however, when a trip to orthopedic walk-in urgent care might be a better fit for you than a visit to the emergency room.
How do I know if I should visit ortho urgent care?
If you have a new injury or debilitating bone or joint pain, here are five quick questions you can ask to help you decide whether orthopedic urgent care or the emergency room will be best positioned to help you find relief.
1. Were you injured playing golf or another sport? If your pain is related to a new or existing sports injury, walk-in orthopedic care may be a great option for you. Specialists here can help determine what's behind your pain and help you get on the road to recovery quickly, including any follow-ups you may need.
2. Are you experiencing new pain that you suspect is related to a chronic orthopedic condition like scoliosis or osteoarthritis? Rather than wait for an appointment with your orthopedic doctor, head to ortho urgent care. They can help you assess your new and changed symptoms and recommend next steps for pain management and follow-up with your orthopedic doctor.
3. Have you experienced a cut, abrasion, or other damage to the tissues of the skin? If you were injured and suspect a broken bone or sprained joint, orthopedic urgent care might be a good option for you. However, if your injury involves broken skin - like a cut, burn, or tear and is not related to an injury of the bone or joint then head to the emergency room or urgent care. Medical professionals there will be the best available to close the wound and help avoid complications like infection. They'll also be able to handle your orthopedic concerns and call in a specialist if needed.
4. Was your head or neck injured? If you were in a car crash or some other accident where you hit your head or hurt your neck, head to the ER. Doctors there may want to assess possible damage to the tissues and bones in these delicate and vital areas - and it's better for you to play it safe in this case.
5. Is your injury life-threatening? If you or the injured person are struggling to breathe, maintain consciousness, are losing blood, or experiencing any other life-threatening symptoms, please call 911.
When you're injured, taking a few minutes to decide between orthopedic urgent care and a trip to the emergency room can help you to get the right level of care as soon as possible. Especially for bone, joint, or muscle pain that isn't associated with a severe accident or life threatening injury, ortho urgent care could mean you're seen and treated by a specialist sooner - that means you can get back to doing the things you love faster.
For urgent orthopedic care, visit Reid Health's walk-in clinic.