Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Tear

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is an area of cartilage and ligaments on the side of the wrist that is opposite the thumb. It enables the wrist to straighten, bend, twist, and move side to side. Falling on an outstretched hand, receiving a direct blow to the hand or the side of the wrist, swinging a bat or racquet, or twisting the wrist can all cause the TFCC to tear. In addition to pain, a TFCC tear usually results in a clicking sound when the wrist is moved. A TFCC tear is diagnosed by examining the hand, and taking an X-ray or performing an MRI scan. Arthroscopy may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

A TFCC tear can usually be treated through a combination of nonsurgical methods, including the following:

  • Applying ice to the wrist several times a day
  • Wearing a splint or cast
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication
  • Performing stretching exercises
  • Receiving steroid injections

A TFCC tear usually takes between 8 and 12 weeks to fully heal. In cases in which symptoms last for more than 6 months even though nonsurgical treatment methods have been used, surgery may be recommended.

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