Orthopedic injuries can be painful, and those suffering from them may be wondering, “Is there an emergency orthopedic clinic, or do I need to wait to get specialized care through an office visit with an orthopedic specialist?” The answer is multifaceted. 

Continue reading to find out more about different types of orthopedic injuries, as well as where and when you need to begin seeking treatment

What is Orthopedics?

Orthopedics is a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. This system includes a patient’s bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and the nerves that provide movement and support to the body.

Orthopedists are trained to diagnose a wide range of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system and use a variety of methods to alleviate pain and restore mobility, such as medication, physical therapy, surgery, and rehabilitation.

doctor with x-ray

Types of Orthopedic Emergencies

Orthopedic emergencies can take the form of sudden and severe injuries that require immediate medical attention to prevent further complications, infections, or illnesses that require consistent, ongoing care. They can be an acute injury, like a sprained ankle or a sports injury, or something more severe, like an open fracture or bacterial infection. Some orthopedic emergencies include, but are not limited to, the following:


A broken bone is a common orthopedic emergency that requires immediate treatment to avoid complications such as infection, deformity, or nerve damage. Breaks can range in severity and type, but all can cause some level of swelling, bruising, and pain.


A dislocation occurs when a joint is forced out of its normal position. This can cause pain, swelling, and immobility issues while the problem persists. Dislocated joints require prompt medical attention to correct the dislocation and prevent further damage to the joint.

Spinal Cord Injury

Any injury to the spinal cord requires urgent medical attention to minimize further damage and prevent paralysis or other serious complications.

Septic Arthritis

This is a bacterial joint infection that causes pain, swelling, and fever. Prompt treatment is required to prevent permanent joint damage.


This is a bone infection that requires prompt treatment to prevent the spread of the infection and the risk of bone damage.

Are Orthopedic Injuries Life-Threatening?

Most orthopedic injuries are not life-threatening, but they can have serious consequences if not treated promptly and properly. 

Untreated fractures or dislocations can lead to long-term disability or chronic pain. Some injuries can lead to complications such as infection or nerve damage.

However, there are certain orthopedic injuries that can be life-threatening if left untreated or if not managed properly, such as septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and acute spinal cord injuries, which in some cases can lead to a severe infection or paralysis. 

orthopedic shoulder pain

When to Seek Emergency Care for Orthopedic Emergencies

It is always best to seek immediate medical care for orthopedic emergencies. A suspected fracture or dislocation that causes severe pain, swelling, or deformity should be treated immediately.

Additionally, severe injuries to the spine or spinal cord that cause loss of sensation, loss of bowel or bladder control, or difficulty breathing are reasons for great concern and should be treated as soon as possible.

You should also seek immediate medical attention for severe or sudden-onset joint pain and swelling. A severe muscle or tendon injury, such as a torn ligament or Achilles tendon rupture, and severe bleeding will also need immediate medical intervention.

If you experience any of these symptoms or have any concerns about an orthopedic injury, seek medical attention immediately.

Is There an Emergency Orthopedic Clinic? 

Patients suffering from orthopedic injuries, big or small, can get the care they deserve at Village Emergency Centers! Each walk-in clinic in the VEC family is an emergency room, fully equipped with diagnostic and imaging technology to successfully identify and treat your orthopedic injury.

Our state-of-the-art urgent care facilities also boast no wait times, so you can get treated fast and start feeling better faster. To find out more about our services and the way we can assist you with orthopedic injuries and more, visit our website.