Orthopedic Injuries - Emergency Department or Primary Care? - Total Men's Primary Care

Orthopedic Injuries — Emergency Department or Primary Care?

  • 23.05.2023

Trips to the emergency department (ED) can be extremely costly and are often avoidable. It has been estimated that approximately 20% of all ED visits are due to bone and muscle, or “orthopedic” injuries, while only about half of those injuries warranted a visit. Orthopedic injuries can be painful and disruptive, and deciding whether to go to the ED or primary care can be difficult. 

Emergency Department 

The emergency department is the go-to place for severe or life-threatening injuries. If you are experiencing any of the following, a visit to the ED may be necessary – 

  • Injuries that have an obvious deformity 
  • Large amount of swelling around the injury or joint
  • Pale, cool limb or numbness in area of injury 
  • Inability to provide pressure of body to affected limb
  • Intolerable pain with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Injury due to a traumatic event such as a high-speed motor vehicle crash or a fall from a ladder greater than 8ft
  • Large laceration associated with injury
  • Respiratory difficulty or chest pain with injury
  • Back pain that has weakness, numbness, or tingling below site of injury/pain, warmth, or redness over the affected joint
  • Back pain with lack of voluntary control over urination or defecation

Primary Care

If you are not experiencing a severe or life-threatening injury, you can visit your primary care provider. Your primary care provider can treat sprains, twists, or uncomplicated fractures, manage acute or chronic pain, and direct you to the appropriate specialist if necessary. Some examples of orthopedic-related issues your primary care provider can help with include –

  • Sprain/strains
  • Tendinitis/overuse injury
  • Twists
  • Uncomplicated fractures
  • Back pain 
  • Knee pain 
  • Shoulder pain 
  • Arthritis 

If an injury occurs after clinic hours, and it is not severe or life-threatening, you can utilize our After Hours Care service. You can connect with a provider virtually, and they will help you determine if the injury needs immediate attention, recommend treatment and pain management options, and schedule an appointment for you as soon as the next morning if necessary. Our After Hours Care service is available through our website Monday-Friday 5-10 pm, Saturday, 1-5 pm, and Sunday, 9 am-5 pm.