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Orthopaedic Urgent Care or Emergency Department?

Injured knee, sprained ankle, or possible broken bone? Where is the best place to get the care you need? Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out where to go in the event of an orthopaedic injury. Knowing where to go can save you significant time and money.

When Should I Choose Urgent Care for an Orthopaedic Injury?

The vast majority of orthopedic injuries can be safely treated at an urgent care. As long as there isn’t severe arm or leg deformities, excessive bleeding, or life threatening concerns, urgent care is the best option for treatment.

Through a collaboration with Wake Orthopaedics and WakeMed Urgent Care, patients have an affordable and efficient alternative to the ER for the most common orthopaedic injuries, including:

  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains, strains, & discolorations
  • Fractures
  • Ligament tears
  • Cast or splint issues
  • Cuts/lacerations
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Pediatric injuries

WakeMed Urgent Care has two locations, in Cary and Raleigh. Our partnership with Wake Orthopaedics allows full-time orthopaedic urgent care coverage for patients needing orthopaedic care for injuries every day, from 8am – 8pm.

runner with ankle injury

When Should I Go to the Emergency Room for an Orthopaedic Injury?

If you think that your injury may be life-threatening ALWAYS choose the emergency department for care. The emergency department is a better choice for more severe orthopaedic injuries, and it offers better resources for treatment if:

  • Your arm or leg is severely crooked
  • A bone has broken through the skin
  • There has been significant blood loss
  • There are other complicating factors (ex: multiple injuries, such as: falling from heights or motor vehicle collisions)

What About Children & Orthopaedic Urgent Care?

For children with significant injuries, such as larger cuts or angulation deformities of their arms and legs, the emergency room offers appropriate sedation and the most comfortable and stress-free treatment environment. Also, unlike urgent care locations, emergency departments are open 24/7 and feature the widest range of services and access to medical specialists.

Visit WakeMed Urgent Care to learn more about our orthopedic urgent care and all of our other urgent care services. For emergency department wait times, locations, and directions, visit Wake Orthopaedic providers cover WakeMed North, Brier Creek Healthplex, and the Garner Healthplex emergency departments Monday through Friday until 9:30pm and Saturday/Sunday until 5pm.

About Mark Wood, MD

Dr. Mark Wood is board certified in Orthopedic Sports Medicine at Wake Orthopaedics with a practice that is focused on knee and shoulder injuries and disorders. Online appointment requests and information about the five convenient office locations are available at