How do I know if it is a TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex) injury?
TFCC. Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex
What does it do? The TFCC is the main stabilizer of the wrist. It is a ligament connecting bone to bone. It supports the wrist with grip, weight-bearing, and rotation (supination and pronation). It keeps the radius and ulna from painfully spreading apart.
My wrist hurts, how do I know if it’s the TFCC? Some common signs and symptoms of a TFCC tear are:
Pain, localized to the ulnar (pinky) side of the wrist
Pain that gets worse with simple gripping and rotation movements (opening a door or using a can opener)
It normally does not swell.
Clicking, snapping, or crackling (crepitus) These are not present in all patients with TFCC tears.
Pain weight-bearing activities.
Feeling of instability
A TFCC definitive diagnosis takes the history, mechanism of injury, and imaging. MRI's are helpful but not always accurate. Read more about MRI under-diagnosis here.
This variable and difficulty in diagnosing a TFCC tear inspired me to create an objective and reliable test that anyone can perform at home using an inexpensive non-digital scale. I have learned that it is a priceless tool to assess the wrist. It is actually the most accurate way to determine TFCC damage and is called the Weight Bearing Test. It measures the wrist's ability to press upon the scale. Test your healthy wrist, your injured wrist, and your injured wrist while taped or wearing the WristWidget®. The results will demonstrate the severity of your injury, and determine your healing path.
What is the TFCC? More popularly known as the wrist meniscus; a kind of shock absorber for some of the joints in your wrist. The TFCC can tear with rotational movements (hyper rotation while using a drill), excessive weight bearing, a fall on an outstretched hand, etc.
There is an interesting subset of patients who develop a TFCC tear for no reason at all. Suddenly out of nowhere, their wrist starts to hurt. This group of patients fascinates me. In close analysis and discussion with these patients, there is a common thread - the stomach. This is a broad statement which was later confirmed when discussing cases with acupuncturists and naturopathic practitioners. Read more about this finding here.