Things to expect after a gunshot injury

In the United States, 31% of all households have firearms. 1 in 3 families with children has at least one gun in the house. Shockingly, more than 22 million children are living in homes with guns.

An estimate of 34,000+ people were treated for unintentional, non-fatal firearm-related injuries in the emergency departments in the United States during a 2-year study period. These injuries often occur during common gun-related activities such as gun cleaning, loading/unloading, hunting, target shooting, revealing, handling, or carrying.

Gunshot Injury

What To Expect After A Gunshot Injury?

Excessive Bleeding

Since it is an open injury, you may experience excessive bleeding. Regardless of whether the bullet stays inside your body or not. Put pressure on the wound to stop further bleeding.

Organ Failure

Gunshot injuries can cause serious damage to your organ(s) if got shot in the upper body. Call 911 and rush to the emergency room as soon as possible to avoid fatality as these need immediate medical care.

Fracture and Soft-tissue Injury

Broken bones, muscle, and tendon injuries are quite common in gunshot injuries. Although these types of injuries are non-fatal, severe injury to the bone(s) can result in comminution and complete tear of soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The repairability of this could again, depends on the severity of the injury.

Retained Bullet Fragments

After a gunshot injury, you may have bullet pieces or fractured bone fragments that may remain loose in your body, which need to be removed, if problematic. Sometimes, if the wound is healed and it is non-problematic, your physician may decide not to remove it at all. Nevertheless, keeping a close observation down the road is necessary to avoid further complications such as infection.

Invasive Procedures

Surgery may require, depending on the nature and severity of the gunshot injury, ranging from irrigation and debridement to remove any retained foreign body or loose fragments, ORIF (Open Reduction and Internal Fixation) of the broken bone(s) for fractures, repair/reconstruction of the damaged soft-tissue along with allograft/autograft, or even combinations of these.


If the wound is dirty, not cleaned, or not taken proper care, then the development of an infection is highly possible, which may require antibiotics, debridement, and in severe cases, an amputation. The infection can develop at any stage of the injury, including during the healing process and even months after the wound is healed.

Here are some safety instructions:

  1. Take a proper training course to learn about handling a gun or a pistol
  2. Always keep your firearms pointed in a safe direction
  3. When not in use, keep your firearms unloaded
  4. Always use the right kind of ammunition
  5. Wear eye and ear protection while shooting
  6. Have your firearm(s) serviced regularly
  7. Keep any weapon for that matter, locked up safely and out of reach of children


Immediate medical attention and care are vital for the gunshot wound. In case of any unfortunate event, call 911 and try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure using a clean cloth to the wound while you wait for the transport to arrive. Follow the safety steps mentioned above to prevent accidental gunshots. If you are someone who has already sustained an injury, then look out for signs of infection and contact your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist to know more about recovery care.

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Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spineupper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacementssports medicinetrauma carepediatric orthopedicspain managementwound careregenerative medicinephysical therapyimaging services, and EMG testing.