When should I see a doctor if I think I have an orthopedic injury?

While it is impossible to list all the reasons you should see a doctor if you think you have an orthopedic (musculoskeletal) injury, in general, severe pain, inability to use the extremity or worsening pain or function would be reasons to see a doctor. Examples orthopedic injuries that should send you to a doctor include:

  • dislocation or loss of alignment of the bones
  • fractured bones sticking out of the skin
  • heavy bleeding (such as from a laceration) associated with the injury
  • inability to bear weight or walk on the affected leg in the case of leg injury
  • inability to move the arm in the case of arm injury
  • a joint that is hot, swollen, and tender
  • a sprain or strain that is not getting better after a week of conservative therapy such as rest, ice, immobilization, ibuprofen or acetaminophen and elevation of the extremity

Patients should seek medical care when they have an acute injury with swelling, locking or instability or any chronic problem.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.