TFCC Tear

TFCCWhat is the TFCC?
The TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage com-plex) is a ligament and cartilage complex that hold the two forearm bones together in the wrist. The motion and stability of this joint allows rotation of the forearm.

What Does a TFCC Tear Feel Like?
Pain on the small finger side of the wrist is common. Many patients experience painful clicking with movement of the wrist and forearm.

How is the TFCC Injured?
The TFCC can tear from a variety of inju-ries. Common mechanisms of injury in-clude a fall on an outstretched hand, heavy or awkward lifting, extreme twist-ing of the forearm. Many tears are asso-ciated with other injuries such as a frac-ture of the wrist.

What are the Treatment Options for a Torn TFCC?
Activity modification and anti-inflammatory medication may reduce but not eliminate the pain. Physical therapy may be helpful. If the pain is tolerable then the problem can be observed. If sur-gery is need to correct the problem it can be delayed to a convenient time. The surgical treatment is performed arthro-scopically on an out patient basis. This consists of trimming the torn cartilage and/or repairing back to the bone. The repair requires an additional small incision on the side of the wrist.

TFCCHow Long Does it Take to Recover From Surgery?
Generally it is a 2 to 3 month process. Recovery time is determined by the se-verity of the problem. When the TFCC is repaired back to bone the recovery is longer. Recovery is faster if the torn TFCC is simply trimmed. The type of treatment is determined at the time of surgery based on surgical findings. If the TFCC is repaired the first 4 to 6 weeks after surgery activity is very restricted. Lifting is limited to a few pounds and overhead activities are avoided. Progres-sive therapy starts at 4 to 6 weeks after surgery and full recovery is expected by 10 to 12 weeks. Time may vary widely depending on associated problems.

What are the Expected Results of Treatment?
Roughly 80% of patients achieve a good or excellent result. Thus, about 20% have some continued symptoms which maybe significant. A small group of patients may require additional surgery. The most common additional procedure done is an ulnar shortening osteotomy.