TFCC Tear Questions & Answers
What causes the TFCC to tear?
The most common cause of a TFCC tear is a fall on an outstretched hand (FOOSH), with palms facing down (pronated). The force from the fall exceeds the TFCC's capacity, which leads to a tear. This can also happen during sports which involve rotation of the wrist such as golf, tennis, hockey and basketball (to name a few!).
What is a TFCC tear?
A TFCC tear is a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex. Think of the TFCC as a trampoline that covers an area between the radius and ulna (two forearm bones) which has a tear in the middle (central) or outlying (peripheral) area. Pulling on the two forearm bones pulls the tear further apart (ouch!).
Is TFCC tear painful?
Yes! TFCC tears are one of the most common causes of ulnar sided wrist pain. TFCC tears are especially painful in the weight bearing position during activities such as pushups.
What does a TFCC tear feel like?
Pain with weight bearing (pushing yourself up from a chair or the floor) and rotation (opening a jar) are two of the most common symptoms TFCC tear patients experience.
How common is a TFCC tear?
TFCC tears are extremely common. Your likelihood of experiencing a TFCC tear increases with age as well as participation in sports that expose the wrist to a lot of force (baseball, tennis, golf, basketball, hockey etc.).
Will TFCC tear heal on its own?
TFCC tears do heal, but you need to create a supportive environment for it to happen!
Can TFCC tear heal without surgery?
Yes! TFCC tears can and do heal without surgery. It's well documented in research, and the thousands of happy WristWidget® users worldwide speak as testament to this!
Does TFCC tear require surgery?
TFCC surgical repairs are ONLY recommended to cases who have not responded to conservative treatment for a period of 6 months (this includes using the WristWidget™ protocol and treatments such as physiotherapy) and/or have a weight bearing tolerance of less than 20lbs
How to fix a TFCC tear?
Step 1: Know what you're fixing - Perform the weight bearing test to confirm injury severity (non-digital scale please)
Step 2: Follow the WristWidget™ protocol and monitor weight bearing tolerance and symptoms (don't rush this)
Step 3: Gradually reintroduce exercise and physical activity to pre-injury levels (WristAbility can help)
Step 4: Give yourself a pat on the back, you've done it!
How to heal TFCC tear?
At WristWidget®, we recommend that everyone who suspects that they have a TFCC tear start by performing the weight bearing test.
- Know what you're fixing - Perform the weight bearing test to confirm injury severity (non-digital scale please)
- Follow the WristWidget® protocol and monitor weight bearing tolerance and symptoms (don't rush this)
- Gradually reintroduce exercise and physical activity to pre-injury levels (WristAbility can help)
- Give yourself a pat on the back, you've done it!
Can a TFCC tear get worse?
TFCC tears can worsen if not taken care of. It's important to take action (early action is always best) and address the cause to prevent this from happening.
How long to treat TFCC tear?
TFCC tear treatment, depending on severity and symptoms, can take anywhere from 2-6 months to regain the same level of function you had prior to injury. (Note: this is longer than the healing phase)
How long for TFCC tear to heal?
TFCC tears generally heal within 3 months of appropriate care.
How serious is a TFCC tear?
Ask any person with a TFCC tear and they will tell you, "it's serious!". TFCC tears can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life due to pain and discomfort. Although TFCC tears are not life threatening, they are very real and serious for which appropriate care is recommended.
How to test for TFCC tear?
We recommend using the weight bearing test, performed with a non-digital scale, to test and track TFCC tear severity and healing progress.