Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care

Sprains, strains, abrasions, cuts, burns, broken bones

An older woman sitting on the exam table with a cast on her arm

Identifying Various Types of Injuries to Determine if Urgent Medical Care is Needed

Injuries happen in a split second. There is rarely ever the time to prepare or prevent them. They are usually caused by bad falls, being distracted in busy areas, and pushing the body too hard. While most accidents are not serious, mild to moderate injuries that are caused by them can quickly get out of hand, if they are not treated correctly. The followings are six of the most common types of injuries that happen and some of their symptoms and treatments.


Sprains are an injury to the ligaments that connect the bones together. They commonly happen from bad falls that cause the body to twist unnaturally in an inward or outward motion. They can also happen if a person has a hand outstretched to brace themselves against the impact of a fall. Pain is the most common symptom of this injury. There is also swelling and bruising. The severity of the pain determines whether or not a person should seek urgent medical care. If the pain is mild, and the limb can still be used, then usually no further care is needed. Ice and rest are sufficient. However, if the sprain is severe, and the injured person is not able to use the affected limb, then they should definitely seek medical attention. Doctors often take x-rays of bad sprains to see the extent of the damage. Rarely is surgery or extensive medical care required. Sometimes, patients do need physical therapy afterward, though.


If the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones in the body are torn or overstretched, this is considered a strain. This injury is common for those who frequently lift heavy objects or workout with weights. It usually happens in the back, legs, and elbows, but it can also occur in the hands and forearms too. This type of injury also causes pain, bruising, and swelling. Strains are treated by having the patient rest for no more than 48 hours while elevating the area. Ice packs and wraps are used to reduce swelling. Unless the injury is severely painful, further medical attention is not usually required.


Abrasions can happen anywhere on the body. A person falling onto a rough surface, such as the sidewalk or a gravel-covered road, can cause them. To avoid further injury, abrasions should be cleaned very delicately with peroxide. A clean bandage should be applied afterward. Unless there are rocks that are embedded in the skin or the area appears to be infected, usually, no further medical care is needed after this.


Minor cuts require only a gentle cleaning and an application of an antibiotic cream. However, large cuts, or those that are deep, should be treated only by a physician. The injured person should have a clean bandage applied to the area. Pressure should be applied to try to stop the bleeding. Only use a tourniquet if the bleeding is profuse because this could cause further damage.


Hot objects that make contact with the skin can cause a painful burn. The treatment that is used depends on how severe it is. First-degree burns only cause mild redness and pain. Second-degree burns cause pain too, but they are swollen and blistered. Third-degree burns reach far down through a person's layers of skin, and a doctor must always treat them. Fourth-degree burns reach all the way down through the skin to the bone. This type requires hospitalization. Never apply any creams or ointments to a burn. It will make them worse.

Broken Bones

Identifying a broken bone must be done with caution because a person could experience further damage if they are moved in the wrong way. The best way to tell is by carefully cutting away any clothing that is covering the area. Look for bones piercing through the skin and immediate bruising. Broken bones can also be identified by looking at the position of the limb. If it looks bent in an unnatural way, or you can see the bones piercing through the skin, call for an ambulance immediately. If the area is painful and swollen, but the person can move it a little, then make a splint from belts and magazines or sticks before you take them to an urgent medical care facility. Never try to treat a broken bone yourself.