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Go to the Emergency Room If You Have a Severe Sprain or Certain Symptoms

The ligaments that connect your bones might be bands of strong fibrous tissue, but they are vulnerable to stretching and tearing. If your ligament overextends and stretches or tears, you’ll be diagnosed with a sprained ligament. Most often, you can treat this at home using the RICE method. That means you need to use rest, ice, compression, and elevation to heal the injury. However, some sprains are much more serious and require surgery. An emergency room physician can diagnose severe injuries and provide treatment to make you comfortable. Then, you can receive a referral to a surgeon.

Is It an Emergency?

If you are dealing with a sprain in your leg, finger, or toe, you likely don’t need to visit the emergency room. But if you are in pain, you can make an appointment with your primary care provider.

However, you should visit the emergency room if:

  • The pain is intense.
  • You cannot walk without assistance.
  • Your foot is deformed.

These symptoms could indicate a fracture. You don’t want to let a fracture heal on its own, so go directly to the emergency room.

Is a Neck Sprain an Emergency?

It’s possible to develop this issue in your neck without knowing how the injury happened. However, most occur when a sudden impact accident causes your head to go forward or backward quickly, beyond its normal limits. While pain and restricted movements are common, you should go to the ER if:

  • You are dizzy.
  • You are fatigued.
  • Some areas in your arms and legs feel numb.
  • You hear a ringing sound in your ears.

Your doctor will evaluate you to ensure you don’t have a spinal cord or head injury. If you do, the emergency room staff will stabilize you and go over treatment options.

Sprains Vs. Strains

Sprains occur when you stretch or tear ligaments. However, strains are diagnosed when you injure the tissue that attaches the bone to the muscle. You can also develop a strain by injuring one of your muscles. Strains generally heal quickly and do not require medical attention.

Ligament sprains can be very painful, but they usually aren’t serious. However, visit the emergency room if you think you have a severe sprain or broken bone. Also, seek emergency medical care if you think you might have a neck sprain and traumatic brain injury due to your neck sprain. Finally, you can get treatment from an emergency room if the pain and swelling are bothersome and you need immediate relief.