Navigating Immediate Care vs. Emergency Room

Injured while playing a round of your favorite summer sport? Twist or bang your knee or elbow the wrong way while working around the yard? If you’ve experienced a musculoskeletal injury, you may be wondering where the best place is to seek treatment. And depending on the type and severity of your injury, a trip to to the Emergency Room may not be your best choice.

That’s where Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinics come in. Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinics fill a need for the timely treatment of acute orthopaedic injuries. Not sure where to go for treatment? Below we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to both Emergency Room and Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinic trips to help you decide a course of treatment in the event of an injury.

Immediate Care

Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinics ensure a direct specialized treatment experience. For acute, but non-life threatening musculoskeletal injuries, Immediate Care can save you time and money, and help to ensure a speedy recovery. A trip to the Emergency Room often ends in a referral to a specialist. With a trip to Immediate Care you cut out the middleman by seeing an orthopaedic specialist from the get go. Getting specialized care from the beginning will ensure a streamlined process and quick recovery.

Most orthopaedic injuries are not immediately life threatening and can be effectively treated at Immediate Care. Some injuries you can take to an Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinic include:

  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains
  • Strained muscles or ligaments
  • Ligament tears
  • Swollen, pained joints
  • Possible broken bones
  • Possible concussions
  • Acute injuries, but not life threatening injuries


  • Often quicker wait times in comparison to the ER.
  • Prompt diagnosis and connection to a specialist of orthopaedic surgeon for treatment
  • Less likely to get sick from exposure to other patients as there will be no patients seeking treatment for infectious conditions.
  • Often cheaper than an emergency room trip.


  • Treatment not available 24/7.
  • Not equipped to handle life threatening injuries.
  • Best for treating single, acute injury rather than combination of injuries.
(Rothman Institute) broken arm

Emergency Room

Anyone who has been to an Emergency Room can tell you it’s a hectic and stressful experience. The wonderfully skilled healthcare professionals working the ER are equipped to treat a wide variety of conditions. However, they may not have the expertise required to make an accurate diagnosis of certain more nuanced conditions.

Often a trip to the ER will result in a referral to a specialist for continued treatment. If you know the type of expertise your injury requires and your injury is not life threatening, it is a good idea to seek treatment at an Immediate Care Center. However, if you’re injury is severe or you experience injury during odd hours, please seek treatment at the ER.

If experiencing any of the following injuries or symptoms after a musculoskeletal injury, a trip to the ER is advised:

  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Confusion or significant change in mental status
  • Broken bones puncturing the skin
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Multiple acute injuries
  • Fainting or seizures associated with injury
  • Hip and shoulder dislocations
  • Hard blow to the head


  • Equipped to treat serious or life threatening injuries.
  • Open 24/7.
  • Can refer you to a proper specialist for further treatment.


  • Other patients may be sick and possibly contagious.
  • Triage system insures patients are seen in order of need, may experience long wait times.
  • If in need of further specialized treatment or surgery the process may be less direct as you wait for referrals.
(Raleigh Orthopaedic) emergency room

A trip to an Immediate Care clinic can streamline your treatment and save you time and money. But in the case of serious injury, a trip to the ER can save your life. If you’ve experienced a muscle, bone or joint injury, it is ultimately up to you where you decide to seek immediate treatment. Be sure to listen to your body and your gut when deciding which course of action is right for you.

At MidAmerica Orthopaedics Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinic our highly trained specialists will be available to you upon your first visit for timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment. Our team of specialists, including Dr. Anton J. Fakhouri who specializes in hand and upper extremity issues, will get you on the road to recovery and back into the game as soon as possible.

To learn more about MidAmerica Orthopaedics, our Orthopaedic Immediate Care clinic and the different treatment options available to you, visit our website. For more information on our Immediate Care services please give us a call at (708) 237-7200. MidAmerica Orthopaedics serves various areas such as Chicago, Palos Hills, Mokena, New Lenox, Oak Lawn, Burbank and more.

When an Injury Occurs

Direct To Specialist The First Time

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