People have a tendency to hope that an injury or ailment will simply go away on its own. They try to “walk it off” or “gut it out.” They figure that giving it time will help it heal without that trip to the doctor’s office.

This is often a waste of time. Hoping it goes away just means you’re neglecting the medical care you really need. Some injuries get worse over time, especially if you try to live the same way you did before it happened. For instance, you can absolutely make a minor back injury far worse by trying to lift something that is too heavy while you’re at work.

To help you know how to proceed when you get hurt, here are a few warning signs that mean your injury is bad enough that you need to set up a medical appointment.

1. It inhibits natural motion

For instance, you hurt your leg and now you cannot walk. Perhaps you can limp around, but your natural motion brings constant pain. It does not fade. When other people see you, they can tell that you got hurt before you even tell them what happened.

2. You can pinpoint the moment of the injury

There is no question about when you got hurt. You can tell the story, you remember the exact moment, and you knew you got hurt instantly. Maybe you felt your back give out when you picked something up; maybe you slipped on the stairs and felt your ankle twist as you caught yourself.

3. Injured muscles have divots or bruises

A minor muscle injury may bring pain that gradually heals on its own. If you rip enough fiber, though, you may see a small divot or indent in your muscle. You may notice bruising under the skin. This indicates that it’s a serious muscle injury, not a minor pull.

4. A head injury leaves you with any symptoms at all

Take all head injuries seriously. The presence of any symptoms could mean you have a traumatic brain injury. Even a concussion is significant. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Losing consciousness for even a few seconds
  • Seeing double and having trouble focusing
  • Having headaches, especially ones that get worse
  • Feeling very sensitive to lights and sounds
  • Feeling confused, perhaps unable to remember what day it is or where you are
  • Suffering from nausea and/or dizziness

Again, take all head injuries seriously. These are among the most common issues that people try to “tough out,” but doing so is very risky.

Social Security options

If your injury leaves you with lasting issues, make sure you understand your potential rights to Social Security Disability. Having proper medical documentation is an important part of this process.