By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
The TFCC is a cartilage structure that connects the end of the forearm to the small wrist bones on the pinky side. It provides stability, cushioning and a platform for movement to the wrist joint. It also keeps the forearm bones stable during forearm rotation or grasping tasks.
Causes of TFCC tears?
A TFCC tear can happen in two different ways:
Type 1. Degenerative
Degenerative tears due to natural wear and tear. It occurs over time and with age as the cartilage wears down. The chances of a TFCC tear increases as you get older, about half of those over 70 years old. You are at high risk of a TFCC tear when you have preexisting conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Type 2. Traumatic
Traumatic tears are injuries that are due to falling on the hand or wrist, twisting injury (like a drill bit catching, causing a twist of the arm) or a fracture at the end of the radius.
What are the TFCC symptoms?
The most common symptom of a TFCC tear include:
- Pain at the ulnar side (pinky finger side) of the wrist or throughout the entire wrist.
- Difficulties in bending or straightening the wrist
- In some cases, it may be difficult to rotate the forearm
- Clicking or popping while turning the forearm or moving the wrist from side to side
- Pain, swelling, tenderness
- Weakness, loss of grip strength
You may do some simple exercises and stretches if you have a TFCC tear as shown in the Youtube video below. This exercise also helps to improve the strength of your wrist during rehabilitation after surgery. Follow up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments with us to get the correct treatment according to your situation.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.