When to Know You Need a Trip to the Emergency Room

With summer in full swing, many people are taking their workout regimes even more seriously to tone up for beach days and pool parties. Unfortunately, these more intense exercise routines can also up your risk of fitness injuries, some of which might even require an unexpected trip to the emergency room.

The real question is: How do you know if the strain in your knee is an emergency or if the pain in your chest is just heartburn or something more severe. When in doubt, call your doctor or visit your nearest ER Near Me for evaluation.

In the meantime, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and know about the most common causes of emergency room visits that result from fitness injuries, as analyzed by several studies.

Most common workout injuries

According to analyzed reports made to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), running often results in the highest number of visits to the emergency room. The reports also found that general exercise (with and without equipment) and hiking were also in the top list of ER visits.

Sometimes, fitness injuries occur when you push yourself too hard, regardless of the workout equipment or gear you use. Other times, an accident is the cause. Understanding the exercise equipment and learning how to use it safely is the first step to avoiding injury, and working with a certified personal trainer or fitness coach can also help you know your limits. It’s also critical to check with your primary care doctor before starting any new fitness program for guidance on what types of exercises or equipment will work best for your body and overall health.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular exercise equipment and common injuries that can occur:

  • Head injuries can occur when using medicine balls, pull-up bars, and jump ropes.
  • Stationary bikes, rowing machines, weights, and ellipticals are often to blame for upper torso injuries.
  • The lower torso is commonly injured while using a treadmill.
  • The StairMaster commonly causes lower leg injuries.
  • Resistance bands commonly cause eye injuries, while punching bags typically cause knee injuries.

Sports-related injuries

Another common cause of emergency room visits is sports injuries, especially for children. Head trauma and concussions are among the most common sports injuries seen in hospital ERs, along with tears, broken bones, and strains.

Head trauma always needs to be watched closely, and immediate attention is required if the person experiences nausea, vomiting, dizziness, trouble balancing, or slurred speech. 

If you want to know more about concussions and when to visit the ER, check out our blog How to Recognize Concussion Symptoms and When to Visit Your Nearest Emergency Room.

When to visit the emergency room 

From fractures and mild swelling to broken bones and internal bleeding, fitness injuries come in all levels of severity. While a minor cut or slight sprain can typically be treated at home, there are some injuries where you may not know if they require immediate attention or not.

Ultimately, if your symptoms are severe, it’s important to listen to your body and see expert medical attention right away. As always, it’s great to know what symptoms to be on the lookout for so you can expect the unexpected.

Here are just some of the many symptoms that warrant a visit to the ER:

You can’t bear weight.

A lower extremity injury can be painful, making it difficult to bear weight on that side. Additionally, a dislocation or fracture can make it nearly impossible to put any weight on the injured area. These are definite signs you need immediate medical attention.

You can see the bone through the skin.

An open fracture is present when a bone can be seen through a laceration or incision. This could pose a risk of infection if not treated immediately. Surgery is typically required to treat the fracture and remove the foreign material and devitalized tissue.

The injury won’t stop bleeding.

If your injury or laceration continues to bleed, it could signify a more severe injury. As suggested above, this could also be a sign of an open fracture that requires immediate medical attention.

The injury is significantly swollen.

While mild swelling might not be serious, a significant amount of swelling could suggest a fracture or more serious injury.

You have a nerve injury.

If you are experiencing weakness, numbness, or tingling, these are all signs of a possible nerve injury. Some numbness or tingling can be present with injuries and it does not always signify nerve damage, but a lack of sensation or the inability to move the body part could point to more severe damage.

You are in unbearable pain.

As we stated above, it’s important to listen to your body. Pain is one of the main reasons a person goes to the emergency room after experiencing a fitness injury, especially if anti-inflammatory pain medications or other remedies do not alleviate the pain. Unbearable pain could signify a more serious injury and should be diagnosed and treated immediately.

Ensure proper form to avoid fitness injuries

While injuries can occur while using heavy weights and equipment, they can easily occur from just simply running. To help prevent sports or fitness injuries, you need to maintain focus and ensure proper form when exercising. Most importantly, you need to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regime to know your own personal risks and health limitations.

This article is not meant to offer specific medical advice. Please consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, and visit your nearest ER Near Me for immediate diagnosis and treatment if your injuries are severe.

Are you interested in other prevention tactics for common fitness injuries? Download our free Cheat Sheet to learn more.

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