The Pain Behind TFCC Tear

Symptoms and diagnosis for TFCC Tear
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TFCC Tear Intro

What is a TFCC Tear? 

Triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is an area between your radius and ulna, the two main bones that make up your forearm. Your TFCC is made of several ligaments and tendons, as well as cartilage. It helps your wrist move and stabilizes your forearm bones when you grasp something with your hand or rotate your forearm.

There are two types of TFCC tears. The first is a Type 1 TFCC tear. This type of tear is caused by an injury such as falling and landing on your hand, damaging tendons, cartilage, or ligaments in the TFCC. There’s also a Type 2 TFCC Tear caused by the breakdown of the TFCC cartilage, typically due to regular aging or conditions such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

What are some symptoms of a TFCC tear?

The main symptom among those who have had a TFCC tear is pain outside the wrist. You also feel pain throughout the entire wrist, and it may be constant, only with movement, or only with pressure to the area. There are other symptoms as well. These include:

  • Wrist swelling.
  • Popping or clicking when you move your wrist.
  • Tenderness.
  • Instability when you try to use your wrist.
  • Weakness or stiffness.

“Acute TFCC tears don’t have any long-term complications. If you take the proper steps to heal your injury, you can resume normal activities after a few months.‌ “

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What types of diagnosis?

We highly recommend seeking professional help instead of self diagnosis to identify the issue and enable faster recovery. Our doctor may ask and conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have a TFCC tear :

    • History of symptoms. Our Specialist will review the pattern of your symptoms. TFCC tear symptoms usually occur include grabbing, relaxing of the palm. It may also include a change in position in exertion of the hand.
    • Physical examination. Our doctor will conduct a physical examination. He will carefully apply pressure to the outer edge of the wrist to isolate the source of the pain. Rotate the wrist. Gently move the ulna up and down.
    • X-ray or MRI. Our doctor may recommend an X-ray of the affected wrist. These scans help to check for fractured bones and assess the severity of the tear.

Possible treatment methods?

A TFCC tear can be healed without surgery. It’s important to understand that the area toward the outside of the wrist will heal better without surgery, and it may take some time for your pain to improve. It’s also important not to overuse the wrist so you can prevent further pain and injury and enable the area to heal correctly.

So, what treatment options are there other than surgery? Options include:

  • Wearing a brace, cast, or splint can help immobilize and protect the wrist from further injury.
  • Our doctor may prescribe ibuprofen or other pain-relieving medications to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Steroid injections are also an option.

Some people also benefit from physical therapy to help with their TFCC tears. During physical therapy, you’ll be guided through stretches, activity adjustments, and other exercises for your injured wrist. Physical therapy aims to increase strength, improve range of motion and flexibility, and reduce swelling and pain. Some of these exercises include bending the wrist forward and backward, keeping the forearm straight, rotating your wrist, picking up, and gently squeezing a ball. Physical therapy usually takes about six weeks to complete, and by the end, you may feel significant relief.

While these nonsurgical treatment options work for numerous people, there’s always the chance that your pain will continue despite your best efforts. In this case, you may need to proceed with surgery. Be sure to consult our health care professional to determine your course of action.

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