Can a TFCC Tear Heal Without Surgery?
The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is an important wrist structure, and when it’s injured, it can cause severe pain and other issues. This area is located between the radius and the ulna, which are the two bones that make up your forearm. The TFCC is made up of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage and helps to stabilize your forearm and move your wrist. A TFCC tear is an injury to the area. What are some symptoms to look for as well as treatment options for a TFCC tear?
What Is a TFCC Tear?
When you sustain an injury to the TFCC, it will likely be evident fairly quickly. You’ll probably feel pain, along with a limited range of motion. Athletes who practice repetitive movements are at higher risk of developing this type of injury, as well as those who have suffered a previous wrist injury.
There are two types of TFCC tears. The first is a Type 1 TFCC tear. This type of tear is caused by an injury such as falling and landing on your hand, damaging tendons, cartilage, or ligaments in the TFCC. There’s also a Type 2 TFCC Tear caused by the breakdown of the TFCC cartilage, typically due to regular aging or conditions such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of a TFCC Tear
The main symptom among those who have had a TFCC tear is pain outside the wrist. You also feel pain throughout the entire wrist, and it may be constant, only with movement, or only with pressure to the area. There are other symptoms as well. These include:
- Wrist swelling.
- Popping or clicking when you move your wrist.
- Instability when you try to use your wrist.
- Weakness or stiffness.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s essential to see a physician sooner rather than later to have a better chance of your injury healing properly. The Hand and Wrist Institute specializes in wrist pain and injuries and can help get the relief you need.
How Is a TFCC Tear Diagnosed?
To diagnose a TFCC tear, you’ll need to see a doctor, such as Dr. Knight at The Hand and Wrist Institute. You’ll be asked questions about injuries and your lifestyle. A physical examination will also be performed. This examination may include carefully applied pressure to find the pain source and to see how far you’re able to rotate the wrist.
An X-ray or MRI may also be performed so that an image of the inside of the wrist can be seen. Imaging would also enable the doctor to check for the possibility of fractures. It will also show the severity of your tear and help the doctor develop a treatment plan.
Is It Possible for a TFCC Tear to Heal Without Surgery?
The quick answer to this question is yes, a TFCC tear can heal without surgery. It’s important to understand that the area toward the outside of the wrist will heal better without surgery, and it may take some time for your pain to improve. It’s also important not to overuse the wrist so you can prevent further pain and injury and enable the area to heal correctly.
So, what treatment options are there other than surgery? Options include:
- Wearing a brace, cast, or splint can help immobilize and protect the wrist from further injury.
- You can take ibuprofen or other pain-relieving medications to reduce swelling and pain.
- Steroid injections are also an option.
Some people also benefit from physical therapy to help with their TFCC tears. During physical therapy, you’ll be guided through stretches, activity adjustments, and other exercises for your injured wrist. Physical therapy aims to increase strength, improve range of motion and flexibility, and reduce swelling and pain. Some of these exercises include bending the wrist forward and backward, keeping the forearm straight, rotating your wrist, picking up, and gently squeezing a ball. Physical therapy usually takes about six weeks to complete, and by the end, you may feel significant relief.
While these nonsurgical treatment options work for numerous people, there’s always the chance that your pain will continue despite your best efforts. In this case, you may need to proceed with surgery. Be sure to consult your health care professional to determine your course of action.
About Surgical Treatment
If nonsurgical treatments aren’t working, you may have no other option but to move forward with surgery to treat your TFCC tear. The procedure is a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure in which the damaged part of the TFCC is repaired through small incisions. While severe cases may require traditional open surgery, the minimally invasive option is preferred in most circumstances. After surgery, you’ll need to wear a cast for several weeks to stabilize your wrist and keep it from moving.
How Can Dr. Knight Help?
Dr. Knight is a leading specialist in the field of wrist disorders and injuries. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, he has significant experience in the field. His ability to accurately diagnose injuries for cartilage and ligament tears enables him to maintain a high success rate for treatment. Dr. Knight has over 25 years of experience, including having performed over 20,000 procedures. While conservative treatment options are ideal, they aren’t always successful. If you require surgery to treat your TFCC tear, you can rest assured that Dr. Knight and his team can have you returning to regular activity as soon as possible.
Reach Out to Us Today
If you’re experiencing wrist pain or have a known TFCC tear and are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to see a physician. At The Hand and Wrist Institute, Dr. Knight and his team are ready to help you make your way back to a pain-free life. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to schedule a consultation. We can be reached by phone at 817-382-6789. You can also schedule an appointment online for your convenience. We have several locations around the Dallas area to help more people get the treatment they need.