Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?


Walk in medical clinic

Staying healthy isn’t always easy given how hectic our lives can be. And sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things happen to us beyond our control; We slip and sprain a joint, we come down with a cold, get attacked by bees or mosquitos, or accidentally place our hand on a hot stove.

When something bad happens to us that isn’t bad enough for a trip to the emergency room, there are Urgent Care centers out there to take care of us at any given time. In fact, 85% of urgent care clinics are open seven days a week. Today there are over 20,000 physicians who practice Urgent Care medicine. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, about 3 million patients visit one of these facilities each week.

What do Urgent Care Centers Treat?.

Urgent Care centers treat a number of symptoms and ailments, including sports injuries, insect bites, cuts, burns, infections, and some fractures. Urgent Care is meant to address and alleviate relatively minor concerns, not treat long-term or chronic conditions. For these problems, you should seek a primary care professional.

When Sports Strike Back.

Sports-related injuries in particular make up a big part of Urgent Care visits, accounting for an average of $33 billion in health care costs each year. There are all kind of injuries related to sports. For baseball players, shoulder and elbow injuries are common. The constant running and contact of football players can result in knee and leg injuries. For basketball players, foot and ankle injuries are seen the most. Although, ankle sprains aren’t at all exclusive to basketball players–every day 25,000 Americans suffer from an ankle sprain!

Even though about 12 million people between the ages of 5 and 22 experience injuries from playing sports each year, many of these injuries don’t necessitate a visit to the ER. Four out of five Urgent Care centers treat fractures. For more severe injuries like broken limbs, internal bleeding, and so on, a visit to the ER will be necessary.

Chronic Pain.

Chronic pain is a concern for many middle aged and elderly people. It’s projected that by the year 2030, 60% of baby boomers will have some kind of chronic condition. Today nearly 70% of Americans claim that lower back pain affects their daily lives. While 40% of individuals exercise to try to relieve back pain, far too many take no action at all, until it’s too late and the condition worsens.

Unfortunately, Urgent Care centers cannot treat chronic conditions like pain in the joints, muscles or back. They can only relieve immediate and short-term issues. If you suffer from chronic back pain or another ongoing condition, seek attention from a primary care provider and/or physical therapist.

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