Should You Go to an Urgent Care for Back Pain

Should You Go to an Urgent Care for Back Pain

If your back pain is bad enough to stop you from doing your regular activities, but isn’t severe enough for a hospital visit, an urgent care facility may be able to help. These clinics are often affiliated with hospitals or doctors’ offices and offer treatment for a variety of common ailments (and some less common ones). Your primary care doctor may be able to provide a referral or point you in their direction—they often have faster hours than a general practice and won’t charge as much. Before making an appointment, ask yourself these questions: Are your symptoms temporary (as in, will they go away on their own within six weeks)? Are they limited to one area of your body?

If your back pain has lasted for less than three days, and there’s no redness or visible deformity, an urgent care facility may be able to help. If your symptoms worsen or fail to improve after a few days, see a doctor. If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, see a physician as soon as possible: There’s numbness down your leg or in other parts of your body; You can’t move one of your limbs; or You have difficulty urinating.

Most people associate urgent care with treating conditions that are serious or very painful. But did you know that urgent care centers also provide routine and preventive services like physicals, stitches, x-rays, flu shots and screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure? Your regular doctor may not be able to accommodate all of your needs in a timely manner so it’s always good to have an alternative treatment center on standby—especially if your primary physician is running behind or doesn’t take patients during certain hours. If you think back pain is something that should only be treated by a specialist but need medical attention as soon as possible, consider an urgent care center. While they aren’t necessarily equipped to treat chronic pain, they can still provide short-term relief in many cases.

The decision to go to urgent care is an easy one if you’re dealing with a very specific problem: You’ve sprained your ankle, or you have a fever, or your child has been stung by a bee. But most people who need medical care seek help at urgent-care clinics because they don’t want to go to an emergency room (ER). Here are some questions that may help guide your decision on whether it makes sense for you: Do I really need to be seen today? Is my condition an emergency? If so, then head straight for the ER. If not, it’s time to visit an urgent-care center instead.

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