When you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, it can be hard to tell if they need to go to the ER or an urgent care facility. Deciding where to go is a big decision, especially if the condition can be life-altering. Unlike most conditions or injuries, spine injuries should always be treated by an ER doctor, rather than an urgent care center due to the potential complications a patient might face.

For medical emergencies ALWAYS call 9-1-1.

What do urgent care facilities treat?

Typically, urgent care facilities are great resources for treating common injuries and illnesses like muscle sprains and strep throat. When your family practice is unable to meet your healthcare needs due to hours of operation or lack of free appointments, consider seeking medical attention from an urgent care facility.

Urgent care conditions

  • Strep throat
  • Flu
  • Mild sprains
  • Sinus infections
  • Cold

If you are seeking medical attention for a spine injury, for instance, your first stop should be closest ER because most urgent care facilities do not have the resources to treat spinal injuries.

Common causes of spinal injuries

  • Car accidents
  • Sports
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Gunshot wound
  • Inflammation

Injuries to the spinal cord can cause

  • Loss of feeling below the injured portion of the spinal cord
  • Permanent loss of mobility
  • Reduced ability to breath
  • Loss of sexual function

Because spine injuries are so serious, it is always recommended that you seek medical attention from the closest ER, not an urgent care facility. If the injury occurs from a traumatic event, like a hiking accident, it is always safer to go to the nearest ER and get looked at by a board-certified physician.

Symptoms of spinal cord injuries include

  • Twisted back or neck
  • Tingling sensation in hands, fingers or feet
  • Weakness
  • Extreme back pain

A serious spine condition is not always immediately obvious and the injury may worsen if not detected and treated right away. Limiting the time between injury and treatment is crucial for a successful recovery. Most urgent care facilities will not have the necessary resources to treat patients with a spinal injury.

Why Sky Ridge Medical Center?

Our doctors have performed more spine surgeries than any other hospital in Colorado. Our Level II Trauma Center also treats patients with many other serious and traumatic conditions.

In addition to spine care, the Sky Ridge Medical Center ER has physicians and other specialists dedicated to caring for stroke, cardiac, orthopedic and GI patients. When you have a medical emergency, count on Sky Ridge’s physicians and staff to provide exceptional clinical care.