You probably hope that you won't soon be among the six million Americans who break a bone each year, but given the common nature of this injury, there's a chance that you or your child will eventually find yourself with a broken bone. Whether you've slipped and fallen at home, hurt yourself during a physical activity, or even been injured on a vacation, you'll need to know what type of medical care to pursue. The two options to consider are to visit a hospital emergency room or an urgent care center. The type of break that you endure can indicate which medical location you should visit. Here are some types of breaks and how you should address them.
As its name indicates, a hairline fracture is a thin break through a bone that may not displace the bone at all. You may believe that you have a hairline fracture if you've been injured and notice pain, but the pain is not dramatically severe and you're still able to move the affected area properly. This is an injury that should compel you to visit an urgent care center. Depending on the severity of the break, you may get a cast, but a splint is also an option. For example, if you have a hairline fracture of one of your toes, the urgent care staff member may give you a small splint or even just tape up the toe.
A standard fracture, which is often also called a stable fracture, is a common type of broken bone. In this injury, the bone suffers a clean break. Although the severity of the break isn't known until a doctor sends you for an X-ray, the affected area won't look hugely traumatized — even if you're in considerable pain. If you suspect that you have this type of fracture, urgent care is the right choice for you. Medical professionals will assess the break and treat it with a cast.
A compound fracture is a serious type of bone break. Generally, this term describes what occurs when you can see the tip of a bone shard protruding through your skin. Compound fractures are extremely painful, and you may even pass out because of the pain or from looking at your injury. Although some urgent care centers may be able to treat your compound fracture, this is generally an injury that should send you to the hospital emergency room, as you'll need surgery to repair the injury.