The TFCC, or triangular fibrocartilage complex, is a complex structure located on the small finger side of the wrist. This complex connects the end of the ulna bone to the end of the radius bone to stabilize the connection of these two bones during rotation of the wrist. It also acts to cushion the smaller wrist bones (carpal bones) on the end of the ulna. The TFCC is composed of a biconcave disc, multiple wrist ligaments and one of the tendon sheaths of the wrist.
Symptoms of a TFCC tear include pain on the small finger side of the wrist that is worse with specific movements of the wrist (Side to Side). There is often associated swelling and occasionally clicking of the wrist with specific motions. This pain can also lead to a decrease in strength of the hand and wrist. To confirm the diagnosis, an MRI with contrast is usually necessary.
Injuries to the TFCC can occur secondary to a degenerative process or an acute injury. Tears may also be related to abnormalities in the bones of the wrist (Positive Ulnar Variance). Acute tears can also occur with specific trauma to the wrist. This is usually a forced deviation of the wrist towards the small finger side such as batting during baseball or tennis.
Often TFCC tears can be treated non-operatively with medications and a possible period of immobilization. When symptoms do not improve, an outpatient surgery may be necessary.