What is a TFCC Injury?

21 August 2017  |  Eugene

When you feel pain in your wrist, it can be difficult to know what to do. Since the wrist is such a complex joint, pain or stiffness could be due to any of a host of ailments, so it's best to take the cautious route. In this article, we'll try to give you a head start to figuring out exactly what is wrong with your wrist by going over one of the most common types of injuries to the wrist: the TFCC Injury.

What is a TFCC Injury?

A TFCC Injury is defined as any injury to the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC). The TFCC is a structure of cartilage located on the ulnar, or little finger, side of your wrist. It cushions and supports the small carpal bones of the wrist, providing much-needed respite and preventing a wide variety of injuries and conditions from developing. The TFCC keeps the ulna and radius (the bones of the forearm) stable, allowing you to safely and precisely grasp objects, rotate your forearm, or move your wrist in virtually any direction. An injury to this structure obviously has an effect on most of your hand's movements, and can cause chronic and severe wrist pain.

Symptoms of a TFCC Injury

There are a number of different common symptoms of an injury to the TFCC, most of which involve a painful disturbance to the ulnar side of your hand. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain at the base of the small finger side of the wrist
  • Pain gets worse as wrist is bent from side to side
  • Swelling across the wrist
  • A click, accompanied by pain, during movement
  • Popping sound when rotating the forearm
  • Loss of grip strength, particularly in the little finger
  • A loss of dexterity in the fingers

TFCC injury resulting from playing tennis

Man with a TFCC injury after playing tennis

What Causes a TFCC Injury?

While anyone can get a TFCC Injury, they are most common in active people, as they usually occur from a sudden impact. Athletes are most at risk, especially those involved in racket or bat sports, or other activities that put a large amount of pressure on the wrist. TFCC tears are also common in those over 50, as the cartilage is prone to deterioration over time. 

Some of the most common causes of TFCC Injury include:

  • Falling and landing on an outstretched hand
  • Excessive pressure bending the wrist backwards
  • Disturbance resulting from a wrist fracture
  • Falls by those with an especially long ulna

Treatments of TFCC Injury

TFCC Injury should be diagnosed by your physician through careful examination, which may include an x-ray to check for any fractures or serious abnormalities. Once diagnosed, as with most wrist conditions, the treatment depends on the severity of your injury. For injuries that don't require surgery, simple anti-inflammatory pain medications, ultrasound therapy, or cortisone injections are recommended.

In most cases, an immobilising splint is used for roughly four weeks to ensure the area is rested and allowed to heal. After that period, a removable splint may be used, and movement can slowly be introduced until strength returns to the TFCC.

Splints and Braces for TFCC Injury

The ideal splint to treat a TFCC Injury will provide protection to the area while completely preventing movement. This will ensure that no painful actions are carried out, allowing the TFCC to fully heal over the period of wear. At WristSupports.co.uk, we stock a wide variety of immobilising splints and braces to treat TFCC, along with some less restrictive supports to wear throughout recovery. To check out our entire range of splints for TFCC, click the yellow button below.


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