TFCC refers to the triangular fibrocartilage complex which sits in the wrist on the side of the small finger. Its purpose is to cushion and support the carpal bones of the wrist and stabilize the radius and ulna as the forearm rotates and as the hand grasps. The complex is made up of the triangular fibrocartilage disc, and the radioulnar and ulnocarpal ligaments.
Types of TFCC Tears
There are 2 types of TFCC tears that can occur. Type 1 is a traumatic tear and is the most common TFCC tear injury. The type 2 tear typically affects older individuals, especially those with inflammatory disorders.
What causes a TFCC tear?
Triangular fibrocartilage complex tears can happen to just about anyone. The most common cause is falling onto an outstretched hand. These injuries are accidental and are a result of trying to catch ourself with our hands as we fall. The injury and sudden weight bearing on the hand and wrist stress the cartilage and leads to tearing of the TFCC. Repetitive activities such as golfing, baseball, racquet ball and gymnastics also put similar stress on the wrist and can lead to degenerative tears.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a TFCC tear include pain in the wrist, especially on the ulnar side (side of the small finger) that is made worse when the wrist is deviated side to side. The wrist can also swell and make a clicking noise following a tear. Many affected individuals also have diminished grip strength in the effected hand.
What are the treatments?
Treatment depends on the severity of the tear. If the TFCC tear is not severe, it can be treated with ultrasound therapy and a temporary splint. More severe cases that do not respond to non-surgical treatment may require surgery to remove the damaged tissue, or debriding. This process will result in a splint or cast and will need to be followed up with Physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles of the forearm and hand and to return it to full range of motion and function.
To book an appointment with a Physiotherapist who specializes in the treatment of a TFCC call Ace Physiotherapy downtown Toronto today at 416-900-6653