How Do You Know If An Injury Is Serious (Besides It Hurting Like Hell)?

By  | 

We all know what it’s like to be walking along when all of a sudden you stub your toe on a coffee table leg you didn’t see. It hurts like hell. But stubbing your toe rarely means that you need urgent medical attention. There are times, however, when you do need to seek out the help of doctors.

Take a look at these ways of knowing whether an injury is serious.

Sign #1: You Can’t Move The Affected Muscle Or Joint

If you can’t move the affected muscle or joint, either because it’s too painful or the signals just aren’t getting there, then it’s a sign that you might have a serious problem on your hands. Many people who believe that their muscle is just “strained” can develop a physical tear which prevents the nervous impulses from activating the muscle tissue to generate a contraction. Torn muscles are potentially life-altering and require immediate urgent care.

There are, however, other circumstances in which you may not be able to move a muscle or joint. A typical example involves the jaw. If you have a tooth infection, especially one close to the back of your mouth, bacteria can spill out into the surrounding tissue, causing inflammation and swelling. The swelling can be so severe in some people that it prevents them from closing their mouths or chewing on food. The jaw remains in a permanently locked open position, increasing the incidence of snoring and leading to substantial pain. The swelling will usually only go down with antibiotics.

Sign #2: You Can’t Put Weight On It

If your injury is superficial, then you’ll be able to use the joint as before, without experiencing excruciating pain. Falling off your bicycle and scraping your arm might be painful, but if it’s just a graze, you’ll be able to use it, as usual, the following day.

More severe injuries, however, make it impossible to put weight on a joint. The pain the body creates is a tool that it uses to ensure that you don’t put any additional pressure or strain on the joint until the body has fixed the problem. If you can’t put weight on a joint, then it often means that the bone is broken or you’ve torn a ligament. Both of these are serious injuries which, as before, require immediate medical attention.

Sign #3: You Have Substantial Swelling

Going back to the bicycle example above, let’s say that you are riding along, hit a bump in the road and fall off your bike. But instead of scraping your elbow, your finger gets caught and twists back in a way that it’s not supposed to bend as you hit the ground, damaging the bones inside.

If you break a bone in your finger, you can experience substantial swelling of the affected area. Your finger could swell to double it’s current size as inflammatory factors rush to the site to protect it from further damage. Swelling can also flare up in a way that seems disproportionate to the impact of the injury if you have the misfortune of breaking a bone. What feels like a gentle tap on your knee could lead to a hairline crack that puts the body into repair mode, creating profound swelling.

Sign #4: You Have Trouble Hearing, Smelling Or With Vision

Head injuries are particularly dangerous. The main issue with head injuries is that they can lead to swelling around the brain, which could damage vital brain tissue and cause brain damage.

Head injuries can lead to temporary issues with sensory organs, like the ears, nose, and eyes. If you notice that you can’t see, hear or smell, then you should get yourself checked out as soon as possible – it could be a sign of dangerous internal swelling.

Sign #5: You Have Lightheadedness

A severe injury can shock the body to such an extent that you begin to feel lightheaded or nauseous. The reason you feel like this is that the body is trying to compensate and process what’s happened. Your injuries could be mild, but the body may interpret a sudden hard fall as a life-threatening event and pump you full of adrenaline and other hormones.

Sign #6: You Heard A “Pop”

Your body contains small sacs of fluid that allow one type of tissue to glide frictionlessly over another. These sacs do such a good job that when we hear a “pop” or a crack, we know something out of the ordinary has happened.

Hearing a popping sound is very common for people who have just suffered a serious injury. More often than not, a pop is a sign of a ligament injury as the ligament itself tears away from the bone. Ligament injuries often need immediate medical attention because of the swelling.

Sign #7: Your Joint Moves Further Than Before

Having a joint that moves further than it did before could seem like a good thing if flexibility is your goal. But joints that move beyond the normal range of motion are usually anything but. The fact that your joint moves further than before could be a sign of severe injury and may indicate dislocation. Dislocations are not only painful, but they can lead to long-term disfigurement if not put back into position quickly.

Sign #8: Your Knee Is Buckling

Knee injuries can be particularly tricky to resolve. The knee is a complex structure that can suffer from a wide variety of issues which include everything from ligament to bone.

Many people with knee injuries experience regular buckling, which can be dangerous when walking downstairs.

What causes buckling? Sometimes it results from looseness in the knee joint, but damaged cartilage can also cause the issue.

Damage to cartilage is difficult for the body to resolve by itself. Usually, if the problem persists, a patient has to undergo surgery.

So there you have it: eight signs that you may have a serious injury, besides the fact that it hurts. Serious injuries require immediate medical attention to ensure that they don’t get worse or damage other parts of the body.


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply