The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) comprises ligaments, cartilage, and tendons. This complex helps in the movement of the wrist and stabilization of the forearm while gripping something. Besides this, TFCC also assists in the rotation of the forearm. When the damage occurs to this complex, the condition is known as TFCC tear.
This condition can be categorized into two types:
Type 1 TFCC tear generally occurs due to physical injury, especially when the person falls on his/her extended hand. This could also occur if the wrist is overextended.
Type 2 condition is most commonly seen in elderly people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
When it comes to the surgical treatment of this condition, then different types of Orthopedic Implants may be used depending upon the patient’s condition.
Symptoms Associated with TFCC Tear
Pain is the most common symptom that is seen in the case of a TFCC tear. Besides this, other symptoms associated with the condition may include:
- Swelling in the wrist
- Weakening of grip strength
- Popping sound during wrist movement
- Weakness in the wrist
Diagnosis of TFCC Tear
Diagnosis of triangular fibrocartilage complex tear starts with the physical examination of the injured area. This generally includes the TFCC compression test and TFCC stress test. Besides all this, certain other tests may also be performed during physical examination including supination test, piano key test, and grind test.
Once the physical examination is done certain imaging tests may also be performed to examine if there is a fracture or not. Identification of tear may also be done by performing an MRI test.
Treatment of TFCC Tear
Depending upon the seriousness of the condition, the treatment of TFCC tear may be done surgically or without surgery.
In the case of moderate injury, a rehabilitation program may be indicated by the doctor. As in such cases, surgery may not be required. During the rehabilitation program, the doctor will suggest rest, application of ice on the injury site, and application of splint for the immobilization. A splint is generally applied for around 3-6 months. Sometimes physical therapy may also be indicated after the application of a splint.
Surgery is required when non-operative treatment does not provide any relief. Surgery for TFCC is a minimally invasive procedure and is known as wrist arthrodesis. In certain cases, the length of the ulna may be reduced to provide relief from symptoms associated with TFCC tear.
The recovery after surgery may take a few weeks or even months to bring back the normal strength & functioning of the wrist. Sometimes, a cast or splint may also be applied after the surgery for the immobilization.
To reduce the recovery time after surgery, physical therapy is advised and besides this, it is also advised to limit activities that can put a strain on your wrist.
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