How Will I Know If I Should Go To The Emergency Room Or See My Doctor For Pain?

Dr. Knox Todd answers the question: 'When Should I Go To The ER For Pain?'

— -- Question: How Will I Know Whether I Should Go To The Emergency Room For My Pain Or Wait To See My Own Doctor?

Answer: There are really three major reasons people come to the emergency department because of pain. The first is a no-brainer: you just have severe pain and you must have it treated right away. That brings patients to the emergency department with fractures, sprains, and there's really no question of going anywhere else. The emergency department is the only facility that's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to take care of your pain.

Now the second reason people come to us is because their doctor told them to. And this is really very common. Your private physician may hear your symptoms and say, "I need you to go to the emergency department because they have the diagnostic and therapeutic technologies to answer the question.

The third answer here is the one that is more problematic. And this is when one has pains that may indicate more serious underlying disease, but those pains don't need to be severe. In fact, in some cases, they're not even pain. As an example, heart attacks can present with chest pain or pressure. It can radiate into the jaw and into the arms. Now, if you're someone who is of an age group that is at risk for heart disease, has a family history of heart disease, and has those symptoms, come to the emergency department first, because there are things we can do about it.

Next: How Will My Treatment Differ If I Go To The ER Rather Than A Pain Clinic?

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