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How to Deal with an Orthopedic Emergency While at Work

Just because you sit at a desk all day doesn’t mean you can’t experience an orthopedic emergency on the job. Hazards are everywhere! Slipping over spilled coffee; straining your back while lifting a box of printer paper; suddenly experiencing frozen shoulder. So just because you aren’t a lumberjack or longshoreman doesn’t mean that you are immune from experiencing an orthopedic while at work. Here’s how you can deal with it should it happen to you.

Triage Yourself

The first thing to do is assess the severity of your condition. Is it an orthopedic emergency? In other words, might you need to go to urgent care or the emergency room, or can it wait to for an appointment with your orthopedist? Here are a few examples of what may be considered an orthopedic emergency.

·      Following an orthopedic procedure such as a hip replacement knee surgery, you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing – all of which may indicate a blood clot in the lungs.

·      Following surgery on a lower extremity, pain and swelling in the calf. This could indicate thrombosis that might become a deadly embolus in the lung.

·      A post-operative wound that starts to drain spontaneously.

·      Following joint replacement surgery, a painfully swollen joint that accompanied by fever and/or chills, which could indicate an infection.

·      If you are in a solid cast, pain, swelling and numbness in the fingers or toes. This is known as cast compression syndrome.

·      Following lumbar spine surgery or an epidural spinal injection, severe back pain along with weakness in the legs and difficulty empting your bladder. This could indicate internal bleeding around the spinal cord.

·      Following orthopedic surgery, an accidental fall or twist of a post-operative limb followed by a noticeable increase in pain. This could indicate several things, to include a change in the fixation of a fracture, a new fracture, or – if you’ve recently had a total hip replacement – a dislocation of the hip joint.

·      Groin or thigh pain followed by an inability to walk. This could indicate an osteoporotic fracture of the hip.

Emergencies that are not post-operative

Other orthopedic emergencies that could happen at work include a broken or fractured arm or leg, a dislocated shoulder, or a sprain or strain. If you are able to move, seek medical attention right away. If you can’t move, have emergency medical attention come to you. Many offices have emergency medical personnel on standby; if you don’t be sure to clear a path so responders can come. Bring your purse and cell phone with or have a colleague accompany you as you may be laid up for a while.

If your orthopedic emergency happens on the job and is work-related, be sure to capture all the data – place, witnesses, photographs – in case you need to file a workman’s compensation claim.

If you experience any sort of head trauma such as a concussion, see a medical professional immediately.

In the event of an orthopedic emergency, don’t hesitate to visit – or have someone transport you – to an orthopedic urgent care facility. There, you can receive immediate care, as opposed to a hospital emergency room where it may take time to see an orthopedic specialist.

Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs provides its patients with optimal comprehensive orthopedic care and primary care (non-operative) sports medicine on an urgent care basis. Whether you have an orthopedic emergency at work, home or in the field, our specialists are readily available to provide you with world-class care and service. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will diagnose the condition and explain your treatment options. Call us at (719) 623-1050 today for an appointment.

When Is an Orthopedic Injury an Emergency?

Orthopedic physicians deal with injuries to the bones and their related structures. Orthopedic treatments and procedures cover fractures, torn ligaments and tendons, strained muscles, and similar injuries. They also deal with acquired and congenital skeletal deformities and degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis.

With new knowledge and technology in orthopedic medicine, older procedures have been replaced by bone grafts, joint replacements, prostheses, and special footwear. Orthopedic treatment frequently combines rehabilitation with traditional medicine and surgery.

When Does an Orthopedic Issue Become Urgent?

Orthopedic emergencies are conditions that should be seen by a physician the same day the injury occurs, to help prevent harm and long-lasting negative impact to the patient. Major trauma with complex fractures, deep and/or wide cuts, and loss of consciousness definitely demand immediate care at the hospital emergency room (ER).

Other orthopedic emergency conditions can develop slowly, with little or no apparent trauma. They often occur at home with no obvious injury. It can be difficult to judge whether they qualify as emergencies and need immediate attention, or whether such attention can be deferred, or whether a physician should at least be consulted about the condition.

So if you do have an emergency orthopedic issue, where is the best place to get the care you need? Knowing when and where to go can save you future problems and significant time and money.

Common Emergency Orthopedic Conditions

There are many serious and painful orthopedic conditions. When these occur or are discovered, an immediate call to the orthopedic physician is needed.

The most common orthopedic injuries – which usually occur in the aftermath of surgery or an accident – that require urgent and emergency attention are:

Severe back pain along with weakness in the legs and difficulty in urinating, especially after lumbar spine surgery or epidural spinal injection, could be caused by bleeding in the area around the spinal cord.

Severe pain and swelling in a joint, accompanied by fever and chills, could be due to a joint infection.

Calf pain and swelling shortly after being injured or having surgery in the legs could indicate a blood clot deep in the veins. This can become a life-threatening embolism.

Dislocations are joint injuries that force the bones out of their normal position.

Falls or twists in a post-operative limb, along with significant pain, could mean a positional change in the setting of the fracture, another new fracture, or a dislocation of the new joint.

Increasing pain, swelling, and numb fingers or toes in a patient with a solid cast could indicate cast-compression syndrome.

Neurovascular injury in an injured extremity can compromise neurovascular function. Signs of this type of injury can be pain, numbness, or tingling. Delays in treating the condition can affect nerve function and blood flow to the limb. This can result in the need for amputation of the extremity, or even death.

Exposed fractures or joints, such as open injuries to the knee, sprained ankle, or other broken bones, are severe health concerns requiring immediate attention.

Osteoporosis accompanied by pain in the thigh or groin, and difficulty walking, could mean an osteoporotic fracture of the hip due to insufficient bone matter.

Septic joints can occur when a bacterial infection invades a joint – in the knee, hip, shoulder, or spine. Any joint is vulnerable to infection, so never hesitate to have it evaluated by a physician.

Chest pain, shortness of breath, and cough manifesting a few weeks after total hip, knee, or shoulder replacement, or any surgery for fractures, could indicate a blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

Spontaneous draining of body fluid oozing out of a wound in a post-operative patient requires treatment by a physician. 

Orthopedic Injuries that Are Treatable at Urgent Care Centers

Most orthopedic injuries can be safely treated at an urgent care center. While life-threatening conditions require true emergency-room treatment, orthopedic urgent care is the better option for treatment of conditions that are not life-threatening, as these specialized facilities are less crowded and pressured. 

Orthopedic urgent care centers can address injuries and problems that include:

  • Cast or splint issues
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Ligament tears
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Pediatric injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains, strains, and discolorations

Injuries that Should Be Treated at Hospital Emergency Rooms

Any injury or condition that may be life-threatening should always be directed to a hospital emergency department for expert care and management. The emergency room is open 24 hours a day, offers top-of-the-line resources, and is the best choice for severe orthopedic injuries if:

  • Arm or leg is severely fractured and/or out of alignment
  • Bone is fractured and exposed through the skin
  • Significant blood loss has occurred
  • Other injuries from falls or accidents are present

Pediatric Emergency Care 

For severely injured children, the emergency room offers the most appropriate environment for handling their injuries immediately. Emergency rooms also feature the widest range of services and access to medical specialists.

Cases that require pediatric care at a hospital emergency room include:

  • A child with a fractured bone remains in pain and is irritable, despite treatment and medication. This could indicate dangerous swelling at the site of the fracture.
  • A child who has no obvious symptoms of an injury but is crying, restless, feverish, and unable to walk. This could indicate a serious hip joint infection.
  • Children with large, deep cuts or wounds.
  • A child who has positional deformities of the limbs.

Family Orthopedic Care in Colorado Springs

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence (CCOE) offers expertise spanning the entire spectrum of orthopedic specialties. We can diagnose and treat your orthopedic issues with state-of-the-art treatment options and the personalized care and attention you deserve.

Contact us today and make an appointment with one of our orthopedic doctors for award-winning orthopedic and sports medicine treatment. Fill out our online appointment request form, or call (719) 623-1050 today. We look forward to helping you live a more pain-free and active lifestyle.

The Difference Between Orthopedic Urgent Care and Regular Urgent Care

You’ve just sustained an orthopedic injury. You need medical attention, but the injury probably doesn’t warrant a trip to the emergency room. So, where do you go – to the nearest urgent care facility or an orthopedic urgent care center?

You may not think it matters much. But knowing where to receive the appropriate care following an orthopedic injury can make all the difference in the world.  That’s because there are distinct differences between a regular urgent care and orthopedic urgent care. Making the right decision can enable you to receive prompt and accurate treatment, possible diagnostic imaging, that will hopefully lead to a faster recovery. 

Orthopedic Urgent Care vs. Regular Urgent CareTypically, an urgent care center is located in a retail space and often refers its walk-in patients to another appropriate community health care provider – such as an imaging center or an orthopedic specialist – for many orthopedic injuries, from broken bones to sprained ankles.

Orthopedic urgent care centers, on the other hand, tend to be located within larger orthopedic or medical facilities in which they serve as an entrée to an orthopedic practice.  In fact, some hospitals provide ortho urgent care in addition to conventional care centers as a gateway to hospital services.

While it is true that both types of urgent care facilities treat orthopedic injuries, only orthopedic urgent care centers are designed exclusively for treating both acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries. You are not waiting in line with or behind someone suffering from the flu or a stomach ailment, for example.

Many minor breaks and sprains can be treated at an urgent care clinic as long as the break isn’t an open fracture – where bone is protruding through the skin – or there isn’t any other deformity.

Conversely, an orthopedic urgent care offers prompt specified care for all types of orthopedic injuries. Whereas a physician at an urgent care center will patch you up and may refer you to an orthopedic specialist for continued care, a specialist at an orthopedic urgent care center will examine you, provide a diagnosis, treatment, and continued care all under one roof.

Bottom line: Orthopedic urgent care providers are specially-trained in bone, muscle, and joint injuries. They deliver same-day treatment, on-site X-rays, and should it be necessary, follow-up care with an orthopedic specialist.  An urgent care provider will refer you to an orthopedic specialist anyway, so you might as well cut out the middle man and receive seamless specialized care from the start.

The Right Choice for Orthopedic Injury

Of course, if you have a major, life-threatening musculoskeletal injury that occurs after hours, you should go to the nearest emergency room for treatment. Otherwise, you’ll receive specified care with less waiting time and cost than an emergency room visit, by heading straight to an orthopedic urgent care center.

The Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs caters to both the world’s elite athletes and all those who need the best care. If you sustain an injury to your bones or joints, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will diagnose the condition and explain your treatment options. Call us at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.

How Choosing an Orthopedic Urgent Care can Save You Time

Orthopedic injuries can happen at any time, but there is a good chance of having an accident that results in a broken bone, sprain, or strain over the weekend. Weekend warriors out there playing sports or participating in other outdoor activities run the risk of getting hurt. If you get injured over the weekend or even in the evening, choosing an orthopedic urgent care could save you valuable time in getting the treatment you need. 

When you go to an orthopedic urgent care center, you will be seen by either an orthopedic surgeon or a physician assistant (PA), who has had extensive training in diagnosing and treating orthopedic injuries. He or she would also have assisted in many surgeries, and have experience in determining which injuries need the care of an orthopedic surgeon. 

If you go to the ER, chances are you will get an X-ray and splint with instructions to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible. If you go to an orthopedic urgent care, in addition to getting to see an orthopedic PA, you can be seen by a surgeon much faster most of the time. Some facilities are able to schedule surgery right away at their affiliated outpatient center.

Here are some of the injuries that can be treated efficiently at an orthopedic urgent care:

  • Broken bones (fractures)
  • Sprains and strains
  • Torn ligaments
  • Sports injuries
  • Foot or ankle injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Hand or wrist injuries

If you live in the Colorado Springs area, arrange to see the orthopedic experts at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence. From professional sports medicine including the US Olympic team, to treatment of osteoarthritis, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons provide the best possible care. Call (719) 623-1050 for a priority appointment with a skilled and experienced orthopedic provider.