Injury to the TFCC involves tears of the articular disc and surrounding ligaments of the wrist.
The TFCC, triangular fibrocartilage complex, helps stabilize the distal radioulnar joint. It is made up of several ligaments and cartilage. There is a small articular disc in the center of the complex that cushions the wrist. Injury to the TFCC involves tears of the articular disc and surrounding ligaments. This injury can occur from an accident, falling onto an outstretched hand, high-demand athletes with repetitive wrist hyperextension, and degenerative changes. Patients with positive ulnar variance, meaning the ulna is longer than the radius, are also more predisposed to TFCC injuries.
Pain is usually localized to the small finger side of the wrist, although in some cases the pain can be more diffuse. It is usually aggravated by any type of forearm rotation. Sometimes, patients may feel instability or catching inside the joint. Tears are diagnosed by a combination of history, clinical testing, and MRI usually with contrast. There are different grades of tears, but treatment usually begins conservatively with immobilization and possibly cortisone injections. If the patient’s symptoms have not improved with conservative management or the patient is experiencing instability, they may be indicated for an arthroscopic TFCC debridement or repair. Please refer to our “Procedures” page for more information.
A view inside a wrist joint using an arthroscope. The TFCC ligament is torn and the instrument is being used to explore the tear.
Every patient receives an in-depth consultation to devise a treatment plan that is right for their problem. Our specialists prefer non-operative and non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy, medications, and/or injections. When we require surgery, we will then use minimally invasive surgical techniques to fix your problem, whether it is fixing a broken bone or repairing a tendon. Our goal is always to get you back to living your life normally as soon as possible.