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Sprain, strain or fracture? Walk (or limp) right in. No appointment needed.

Your son falls out of the apple tree. Your daughter and best friend collide on the soccer field. You trip over the shoes, backpacks, sporting equipment and other random objects you’ve been asking them to put away — or else. 

Or else what? You hadn’t gotten that far. But now, it looks like you’ve got an ankle sprain.

The ER vs. orthopaedic urgent care. How to choose.

No bones poking through skin? Not bleeding profusely? No loss of consciousness? Good. Orthopaedic urgent care is probably all you need. And what you won’t need is an appointment.

If any of the above situations apply, or you feel the injury is life-threatening in any way, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency department. 

What happens at orthopaedic urgent care? 

Ever had a non-emergency medical issue and wanted to be seen quickly? You probably headed to a regular urgent care clinic. 

Orthopaedic urgent care clinics specialize in bone, muscle and joint issues. Otherwise, they’re much the same as any other urgent care clinic. For muscle strains, bone fractures or any type of sprain — including ankle sprains, wrist sprains and knee sprains — an orthopedic urgent care clinic can:

  • Evaluate the injury
  • Perform X-rays
  • Create splints and casts
  • Schedule follow-up appointments

You might even be back on your feet in the time it would’ve taken to be seen in the ER — where serious injuries do come first, after all.

Don’t forget about R.I.C.E.

Sprains and strains can both benefit from the R.I.C.E. method. Try this approach while you’re waiting to see your orthopaedic provider online or in person:

  • R – Rest the injury for 48 hours
  • I – Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times a day
  • C – Compress the injury to reduce swelling
  • E – Elevate the injured limb about 8 inches above the heart

Hopefully, your injury is minor enough that this is all the treatment you’ll need — and hopefully, your kids have learned a lesson and will pick up their stuff before someone else trips over it. But don’t hold your breath on that one.

Not sure you need to come in? Try a virtual consultation. 

Driving with a sprained ankle isn’t a fabulous idea. That’s why some health systems, including Geisinger, offer virtual orthopaedic urgent care. Stay home, get comfy and get on a video call with an orthopaedic provider who can assess your injury and let you know what to do next — get someone to drive you to orthopaedic urgent care (or the nearest ER) or, better yet, treat your injury yourself at home following their instructions. 

Spoiler alert — there’s a good chance they’ll mention R.I.C.E.

Next steps: 

Learn more about Geisinger Orthopaedic Urgent Care

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