The Complexity of Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Injuries

Your fingers, hands, and wrists are made up of dozens of bones and joints supported by ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. An injury can cause major problems within this complicated system and send you directly to hand surgeons. A TFCC, or Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex injury is a very painful and even disabling condition that you will want to avoid.

Where is the TFCC?

The side of your arm and hand that extends up to your little finger is known as the ulnar side, named for the outside bone of your forearm. Between your ulna and the bones that form your hand, are many small bones in your wrist. These bones are connected by the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex, cushioning the bones and allowing fluid movement in your wrist.

How the TFCC Becomes Injured

The most common way the TFCC is damaged is from a fall on an outstretched hand. Athletes and gymnasts are frequent patients of hand surgeons for this reason. Other sufferers include mechanics and skilled tradespeople working with power drills. In some cases the drill abruptly stops turning, cranking the wrist and tearing the TFCC. Other patients may suffer a TFCC injury as a consequence of a deviation in their natural wrist anatomy.

How a TFCC Injury is Diagnosed

For most sufferers of a TFCC injury, hand surgeons hear stories of an improper fall followed by pain, cracking, and tenderness. That is the first cue that this type of injury has occurred, and will prompt the doctor to order X-rays or MRI scans if the joint is too swollen for an X-ray to work correctly. A special type of X-ray may be performed, in which dye is injected to make the TFCC more visible on the X-ray.

How a TFCC Injury is Treated

Once hand surgeons make a positive diagnosis of a TFCC injury, a few treatment methods may be used. If the wrist is stable and the pain is tolerable, NSAID medications may be administered. Immobilization of the joint is another good strategy, but if the wrist proves to be too weak or unstable, hand surgeons may have to surgically repair the problem. Most treatments should be followed by rehabilitation.

The TFCC is an essential part of the intricate hand and wrist that can cause considerable trouble if injured. Anytime you experience a fall or collision followed by pain or unusual behavior, consult an orthopedic specialist immediately for the best chance of recovery.

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