Health & Wellness

Ankle Sprain? Should you go to Urgent Care or ER?

Exercise is a wonderful way to get in shape and to look and feel great! However, it is important that one does not overdo it.  If you push yourself too hard, you are likely to end up with an injury of some sort or the other. One of the most common injuries is an ankle sprain.

What is an ankle sprain, anyway?

The ankle has many ligaments. These are connective tissues that hold one bone on to another. Since the foot and especially the ankle, bears the full weight of the whole body, these ligaments are quite susceptible to injury, such as a sprain, for instance.

A sprain is an injury to the (ankle) ligament in which the ligament is overstretched or torn or both.  By and large, one of the most common types of injury is known as an “inversion injury.” Here the foot rolls inwards, towards the center of the body. It can occur by stepping off the wrong way or even when walking on an otherwise uneven surface. The almost inevitable result of a terrible sprain is a lot of pain, limping and sometimes swelling over the affected part of the ligament.

Of course, you can’t allow a bad situation from getting progressively worse. And have to seek medical help as soon as possible. But the question is where should you head? AN ER (emergency room) or to an urgent care facility.

When you can (barely) walk, your first thought would be to head to the emergency room.  And it would be the right choice if you are experiencing symptoms such as difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, terrible bleeding or any other potentially life-threatening issues. But with a sprained ankle, the ER may not be the most viable option. Let us see why:

ER vs. urgent care

This is because urgent care facilities are now cropping up pretty much everywhere, and they sure offer people convenient access to the effective care, that they need the most. And in case you end up with one that is already in your health plan’s own network, then the odds are that the visit may well cost you less amount of money.

In fact, the term is ‘emergency’ and while a sprained ankle may hurt a lot, but it is not an emergency of the kind that puts your life in danger. And this means that you can be well taken care of in an urgent care facility that too at a lower cost.

This is because the charges start to add up at the ER (from the health system perspective that is). This is the part where Urgent Care Tampa clinics come into the picture. Since they can also help you out in a lot of ways where sprained ankles and other relatively mild injuries are concerned.

The concept behind urgent care centers

There are about 6,900 urgent care centers in the USA alone and their numbers are steadily growing. And it is not just ankle sprains alone that they can help out with but rather, the list of different types of medical issues that they can help with, is also steadily increasing as well. Some common issues that they can handle include:

  • Headaches
  • Fractures
  • Various types of muscle and ligament sprains
  • Infections
  • Flu
  • Nausea
  • Allergies
  •  Bronchitis
  •  Sinusitis
  • Cuts and minor lacerations
  • Minor burns and rashes
  • Infections of the urinary tract
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure

The core concept behind such centers is that sometimes a person just might need immediate medical attention, but it would not necessarily be at the level of a typical hospital emergency room, as such. There are several benefits to visiting such a center. For example, the emergency room of a large hospital might be crowded and the staff there would have to prioritize who needs more urgent treatment. In the long run, it might end up to literally hours of waiting, while you are in a lot of pain. A good deal of research has indicated that the waiting time at an ER is deemed to be considerably longer than the corresponding time spent at an urgent care facility.


In the light of the above, it can easily be stated If you face an urgent, but an otherwise non-life-threatening condition (such as an ankle sprain), then it would be best to call your own family or primary care medical specialist first.  However, if your family doctor is not available at that point in time or cannot see you soon enough then the odds are that an urgent care facility may be the perfect choice for many common medical ailments. However, here it is prudent to mention that you should make sure that you end up going to one, that is part of your overall health plan so as save your hard-earned dollars.

Once you visit the facility, you quickly realize it is an ideal place to treat various small injuries and ailments such as a ‘sprained ankle’ or any other minor but a painful issue.

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