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Sports Medicine

TFCC Tear Movement Limitations

08/03/2009

Question:

In March of 2009, I fell face first with a laptop in my hands. In order to not fall on my face, I caught myself with both hands, while also trying to save the laptop (I succeeded in this). After 3 months of severe pain when bending my wrists or putting weight on them, I went to my Orthopedist. After xrays, arthroscopy and MRI w/ contrast, it was found that I tore both TFCC ligaments. I have been in splints instead of casts, because of the limitations of casts. My wrist only hurts when bent or with pressure, and I have been lifting weights with the splints on (bench press, biceps curls, triceps extension... pretty much a full upper body work out). The question is, should I be doing this at all, or am I torquing the injury and preventing it from healing? What limitations should I observe? My orthopedist, did not seem too concerned, but he has been a little lax about limitations and issues in the past when I had a shoulder injury. I look forward to the response

Answer:

FYI, the TFCC - which refers to  "Triangular Fibrocartilage complex" - is actually comprised of at least 5 ligaments, as well as 2 different cartilages and a tendon sheath.

Since you are now several months out from the injury, the majority of the healing process has already taken place - unless, during the wrist arthroscopy(ies), one or more "repair" procedures were performed in addition to diagnosing the extent of your injuries. If you've undergone surgical repair of injured structures and not just "diagnostic arthroscopy," the extent and duration of any activity restrictions depends on the procedure(s) performed, so further discussion with either your surgeon - or possibly a second opinion from another orthopedist who specializes in wrist and hand problems - should result in either reassurance, or else specific recommendations.

If the pain you continue to experience is decreasing overall, this would certainly be a good sign. However, if your pain severity is not improving, minimizing pain-producing positions and activities to the extent possible is usually a good idea, and undergoing re-evaluation by your surgeon may be advisable.

Finally, for further information, if you enter "TFCC" as a search term on the NetWellness website, you'll retrieve 3 results.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University