Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) Tears

Triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tears occur to an important stabilizing structure in the wrist. The TFCC is an interconnected group of tissues, blending together to support the radius and ulna forearm bones as well as connect the hand to the wrist near the little finger. When the TFCC tears or becomes inflamed, it can cause serious pain and reduced function in the wrist. 

Causes of TFCC Tears

There are typically two different varieties of TFCC tears with differing causes:

  • Type 1 — These tears are the most severe, generally occurring due to external force or trauma. Type 1 tears normally happen when a person falls on their outstretched hand, rotates their arm excessively, or sustains other fractures.
  • Type 2 — These tears ordinarily develop as a result of chronic or degenerative conditions. Type 2 tears can occur when cartilage or tissue breaks down over time. Disorders such as arthritis or gout can also cause Type 2 tears. 

Symptoms of TFCC Tears

The symptoms of a TFCC tear can fluctuate greatly based on the severity of the injury and the patient’s personal medical history. Though in common practice, many patients with TFCC tears complain of:

  • Sharp or dull pain, particularly when bending the wrist; 
  • Popping or clicking, particularly when rotating the wrist; or
  • Reduced grip strength or range of motion. 

Diagnosis of TFCC Tears

To diagnose a TFCC tear, a doctor will usually start with a physical examination. During this process, the doctor will manipulate the wrist, attempting to bend and rotate. A careful evaluation of painful symptoms can reveal a TFCC tear. 

The use of imaging tests is also helpful for diagnosing TFCC tears. A doctor might conduct an X-ray to check for bone fractures. Or an MRI might be appropriate to evaluate potential tissue damage. Ultimately, it is vital for a doctor or similarly qualified professional to conduct a complete diagnosis of a TFCC tear. 

Treatment of TFCC Tears

Mirroring the diagnostic process, it is critical for a doctor to evaluate potential treatment options for TFCC tears. Any patient who attempts self-treatment in this context may inadvertently worsen their symptoms. 

Although treatment options vary greatly for this type of injury, a doctor will typically recommend:

  • Non-Surgical Treatment — For less severe TFCC tears, non-surgical treatment can be effective for some patients. Non-surgical treatment options include immobilization through splints, anti-inflammatory medication, and steroid injections. 
  • Surgical Treatment — For more severe or developed TFCC tears, surgical intervention may be necessary. Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery can help some patients recover from TFCC tears. For other patients, open surgery might be the only option to treat TFCC tears. 

Contact a Skilled Orthopaedic Physician Today

If you have any of the signs or symptoms of a TFCC tear, it can be highly valuable to reach out to a skilled orthopaedic physician. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, we have board-certified physicians with an emphasis on numerous orthopaedic conditions, including TFCC tears. If you need medical treatment for an orthopaedic injury,

Contact us today!