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ER or urgent care? What to do after a car accident

Car accidents happen. A lot. 

Around 6 million automobile accidents occur each year in the U.S. and injure more than 3 million people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fortunately, most only experience minor injuries.

Regardless, it’s still important to get checked out after an accident – even when it’s minor and you feel perfectly fine.

What are the most common car accident injuries?

Car accidents can result in several types of injuries. The most common include:

  • Neck injuries.
  • Back injuries.
  • Burns.
  • Scrapes and cuts.
  • Fractures or broken bones.
  • Soft tissue injuries, including sprains and bruising.
  • Shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff tears.
  • Internal injuries.
  • Head trauma.

While some car accident injuries are obvious and immediate, many can remain hidden and often go unnoticed. 

When you’re involved in a car accident – even a minor one – the stress you experience can produce adrenaline and endorphins in your body that mask the immediate appearance of injuries. Other factors that can delay pain and other symptoms include the location of your injury, overall health and age.

You may be sore or tender after an accident, but pain may worsen as time passes. In some cases, it may take hours, days or weeks for injuries to become apparent. This happens most often with:

  • Whiplash and other neck injuries.
  • Shoulder injuries.
  • Head injuries.
  • Sprains and strains

When should you go to the ER after a car accident?

Severe or life-threatening injuries should always be treated immediately in an emergency room. Always go to the nearest ER if you have:

  • Severe burns
  • Deep lacerations
  • Heavy bleeding
  • A serious fracture or limb deformity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness or excessive sleepiness

When should you visit an urgent care clinic for a car accident injury?

If you’ve been in an accident and haven’t sustained a serious injury, urgent care is a great option. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of a problem may save you pain and complications down the road.  

The key benefits of urgent care clinics include:

  • Fast care.
  • Ease and convenience.
  • Lower cost.

Indigo Urgent Care treats most minor illnesses and injuries, including:

  • Minor fractures, sprains and strains
  • Scraps and cuts that need stitches
  • Bruises
  • Burns

Simply walk into one of our convenient neighborhood locations or book an appointment online. One of our healthcare clinicians will evaluate your symptoms and provide a prompt diagnosis and treatment plan, including a prescription, if needed. Every Indigo offers digital X-ray services onsite, and we’ll even send you home with a pair of crutches if you need them.

If your injury requires a higher level of care, we’ll refer you to a specialist or coordinate your transfer to the nearest ER to ensure you get the treatment you need. 

If you prefer to get checked out from the comfort of home, Indigo Virtual Care makes it easy to get the care you need, when and where you need it. Book a same- or next-day appointment to meet face-to-face with an Indigo Virtual Care clinician from your favorite device.

In-person and virtually, we’re here from 8 am to 8 pm, every day.

How can I reduce the risk of car accident injuries?

Unfortunately, car accidents are just a way of life. But there are ways to prevent them and reduce the risk of injuries:

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Keep your vehicle well-maintained.
  • Don’t drive distracted. To ensure you’re focused on the road, put down your phone and opt for a wireless headset if you need to make or take a call.
  • Don’t drive drowsy or under the influence.
  • Follow all travel laws and signals.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Use caution in adverse weather conditions.

A better way to get better.

Health care that’s friendly, easy, and centered around you.

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