Common summertime injuries
Fractures, sprains, dislocations and lacerations are among the most common reasons to visit the emergency room or urgent care center. As the weather turns to summer, people are more active outdoors and the injury rate increases. Sometimes, the injuries are minor, others require emergency treatment. Primary care physicians can often care for these injuries during regular hours in the office, but injuries often happen after regular hours, may need emergency treatment or the care of a specialist such as a sports medicine doctor or orthopaedic surgeon.
Injuries from falls, sports or vehicle crashes may results in broken bones(fractures), dislocated joints, sprains, bruises or cuts (lacerations).
A bone fracture is a break in a bone. The soft tissue surrounding the break also may be injured. Most bone fractures are the result of injuries from falls or vehicle crashes.
Sprains occur when a joint is forced out of its normal position, resulting in an overstretch or tear of the ligament supporting that joint. Signs and symptoms include swelling, bruising, pain, and the inability to use the joint. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild sprains can be treated at home, using R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Pain medication can help, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Sometimes, physical therapy is needed to help restore full function.
A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon (fibrous cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone). Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result from a partial or complete tear.
If an injury is severe enough that it can't support weight or be moved, is very tender to the touch, swollen, has lumps and bumps in addition to swelling, is numb, has red streaks coming from the area or has been injured in the past, it¹s best to get it examined as soon as possible. Sometimes people feel a pop or tear when the injury happens. Any of these could be signs of a fracture, a severe (or unstable) sprain, or a dislocation.
If you think you have broken a bone or dislocated a joint, seek emergency medical care immediately. Fractures and dislocations may need to be set quickly to prevent damage to blood vessels or nerves. Lacerations should be seen within 6-8 hours so they can be successfully sutured (stitched). If your primary care doctor's office is open, they may be able to treat you or direct you to a specialist's office. If they are closed or cannot see you immediately, you should go to an emergency room for care.
Sprains of ligaments and muscles strains often need to be seen soon as well but may wait a day or two if you choose not to go to the emergency room. Unfortunately it is sometimes hard to tell if a part is sprained or broken, so it's best to seek attention quickly. A medical examination and X-rays can help determine if and where a bone is broken. The broken pieces may need to be put back in place and then immobilized until the bones can heal as new bone forms around the break. The type of treatment will depend on the kind of fracture and the specific bones involved. Fractured bones usually need at least four week, possibly up to 12 weeks to heal although casts may be removed before that to prevent stiffness (particularly for fractures involving the elbow or hand). Physical therapy may be required after the bone has healed. bone fragments to keep them together
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