TFCC stands for triangular fibrocartilage complex. It is soft tissue that is located in the wrist joint between the ulna (the forearm bone) and the carpals (bones of the hands).
The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) has an important role in stabilising the outside of the wrist joint as well as allowing the wrist to rotate and move around freely.
How does it get injured?
As the TFCC is made up of different ligaments and cartilage it can unfortunately tear. These tears may occur from acute trauma, such as a fall landing on your wrist or twisting your wrist while holding a weight such as a dumbbell or power tool.
Athletes who participate in tennis or gymnastics are also at greater risk of developing a TFCC tear due to the excessive amount of force through the wrist joint during rotation movements.
Tears in the TFCC may also be caused by a slow breakdown of the cartilage due to aging and underlying medical conditions such as gout. If the TFCC is torn you may find symptoms such as clicking in the wrist, unable to put weight through your hand, as well as a reduction in grip strength.
What should I do?
If you’ve recently had a fall resulting in wrist pain and/or clicking in the wrist, you should book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists at iMove. Your physiotherapist will assess your wrist by performing different tests which rotate the wrist to determine if the TFCC has been torn.
If it is found that you have suffered a TFCC tear, the first thing we do is “de-load” the area. We do this by applying tape to the wrist or potentially bracing, depending on the severity.
Soft tissue massage of the forearm by the physiotherapist or even self-massage will also help alleviate symptoms.
Physiotherapists will also guide your exercise program to progress the strength of your wrist, grip strength, and correct technique errors which may have led to the injury in the first place.
Do I need surgery?
If the tear is of a substantial size or if conservative management has been unsuccessful, surgery may be considered. Arthroscopic repair may be required to “clean up” the torn cartilage.
After surgery, Physiotherapy will be required in order to regain full movement, strength, and function of your wrist.
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