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Common Conditions

Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC)


The Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) is an area between your radius and ulna, the two main bones that make up your forearm. The TFCC is made of several ligaments and tendons, as well as cartilage. It helps the wrist move and stabilizes the forearm bones when grasping something or rotate the forearm. A TFCC tear is a type of injury to this region.

There are two types of TFCC Tears.

Type 1 TFCC tears are caused by injury from falling and landing on an outstretched hand, which can damage the ligament, cartilage and tendons to the region. Also known as FOOSH (Falling on an outstretched hand).

Type 2 TFCC tears are caused by the slow breakdown of the cartilage in the TFCC, usually due to age or an underlying condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout. The first step in treating TFCC tears is to temporarily stop doing any activities that cause wrist pain while the tear heals. Wearing a splint or cast is recommended to prevent the wrist from moving.

It is best to avoid using the affected wrist to prevent further injury and to allow it to heal properly with physical therapy. In general, TFCC tears require about 6 weeks of physical therapy. This involves doing gentle exercises and activity adjustments for the injured wrist that aims to help rebuild strength in the TFCC, improve flexibility, improve range of motion, reduce pain and swelling. If resting the wrist and physical therapy do not provide any relief, surgery may be needed to repair the tear. If in doubt, seek professional advice.