How to Recover From Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Tear

August 16, 2019 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

The Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) affects a group of cartilage and ligaments found near the smallest finger by the side of the wrist. The TFCC enables your wrist to manipulate your hands and carry out movements like gripping and hand rotation. It also bears the weight when you’re holding something, or putting force on your hand. 

The TFCC is what keeps the bones in the forearms, called the radius and ulna, from pulling apart. It works like a shock absorber for the joints on your hands, therefore, a tear, lesion or injury in the TFCC may cause acute wrist pain. If left untreated the pain may become chronic.

Treatment Options for a TFCC Tear

As with other injuries to ligaments, joints, and muscles, the first option for treating TFCC tears is usually conservative and non-surgical. However, your doctor will need to evaluate the type of injury before coming up with a treatment plan. 

TFCC tears or injuries are classified into two types: 

  • Type 1 is the most common injury, which occurs due to trauma following a fall or  sudden traction on the wrist. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, people younger than 30 who live an active life are 27% more prone to TFCC of this type. 
  • Type 2 is regarded as a degenerative injury that develops due to age or a chronic inflammatory disorder like rheumatoid arthritis or gout. A study in the journal Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research cited that abnormalities and complications of TFCC in patients above 70 years old increases by 49%.  

Once the doctor has determined the type of injury, the treatment should be focused on:

  • Reducing the inflammation and the pain
  • Restoration and rehabilitation of motion or movement
  • Strengthening and returning to normal function

There is usually no set timeline for rehabilitating a TFCC tear as it is up to the doctors to determine the patient’s progress.

physical therapist Cary

Reducing Pain and Inflammation

Ice packs, or cold compresses should help alleviate the pain and inflammation on the wrist aside from taking pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication. The doctor might likely advise the patient to lessen activities that may aggravate the condition. If the injury or pain is still quite recent, splinting or bracing to immobilize the wrist may be needed for at least 3 to 12 weeks.

The doctor may also recommend that the patient works with a physical therapist to help perform movements that will not further damage the wrist. Raleigh Orthopedic Clinic physical therapy in Cary offers world-class and cost-effective physical therapy for its patients. Thanks to our qualified team of licensed physical therapists, licensed athletic trainers, and exercise physiologists.

Restoring Movement 

Even after the pain and inflammation have subsided, the patient will still need to work with his or her physical therapist for regular wrist, finger, and thumb exercises to restore motion and movement. At this stage, the goal is to improve the wrist’s range of motion using low load movements, active and assisted exercises, flexion and extension, and stretches. 

The physical therapist will also keep working to inform and educate the patient on the progress of the TFCC tear and how rehabilitation is helping with the recovery.

Strengthening the Wrist  

By this time, the wrist’s range of motion should almost be back to normal. The focus will then shift to recovering the TFCC’s full function, especially in the patient’s daily activities and routines. The physical therapist will also teach the patient techniques aiming to prevent injuries. 

Essentially, if physical therapy during a TFCC tear recovery is consistent, the patient should experience a big decrease in the painful symptoms alongside improved function of the wrist – if not a full recovery.

Where to find the best physical therapist in Cary

To avail the best physical therapy services in Cary, make an appointment with Raleigh Orthopaedic Therapy Services. Our licensed therapists optimize patients’ quality of life through exercise, hands-on care, and education.

For your convenience, physical therapy is offered at our five clinic locations in the Triangle. To schedule a therapy appointment at one of our clinics or performance centers, please call (919) 781-5600. 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.