We frequently ignore pertinent body signals while we carry on with our daily routines concerning injuries and other conditions. However, it is important to pay attention to persistent wrist pain, particularly when moving or applying pressure on the wrist, as it could indicate a tear in the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC).
TFCC is a crucial weight-bearing joint structure located between the hand and forearm bones, consisting of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It is crucial in providing stability, facilitating smooth movement, and cushioning the wrist joints.
The tear in the TFCC can occur due to traumatic accidents or degenerative diseases. While it is a common condition, individuals over 50 are more susceptible. Therefore, it is important to note any persistent wrist pain and seek medical attention to prevent further complications.
If you want to approach the TFCC injury treatment without surgery, it is extremely important to diagnose the condition early. Keep reading to learn more about the conservative treatment methods for TFCC tears!
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for TFCC Tear
Injuries or damage to TFCC are common due to their complex structure. Studies show that TFCC tears mostly occur in individuals engaging in intense physical activities, the elderly and those with a medical history of inflammatory diseases like gout and rheumatoid arthritis. There are two types of TFCC tears:
Type 1 (Traumatic): Type 1 tears occur due to physical injury. For instance, when an individual faces an accidental fall on their hands, they likely suffer type 1 TFCC tear.
Type 2 (Degenerative): This type of tear is caused due to the gradual wear and tear or breakdown of cartilage tissue due to ageing or repetitive use.
The primary aim of TFCC tear treatment is to reduce the pain and inflammation around the affected area, improving your range of motion and the quality of your life. Your physician will decide the approach based on the type of tear, the severity of the pain and the condition. Here are some of the constructive non-surgical treatment options for TFCC tears.
Rest and Immobilization
Like the injury of other ligaments, joints and muscles, taking ample rest is the initial step in the non-surgical treatment for TFCC tears. Generally, the pain will reduce with rest and time. For instance, people passionate about sports might neglect the symptoms and continue to engage in rigorous movements that cause potential damage.
Therefore it is important to refrain from activities that can aggravate the symptoms. Here are some of the strategies to follow.
- Avoid repetitive hand movements like heavy grasping and twisting or turning motions.
- Avoid lifting objects with one hand.
- For unavoidable activities, take frequent breaks in between to release the stress.
In contrast, it is important to prevent forearm rotation to promote the TFCC’s ligament injury healing. To alleviate pain and discomfort, you should maintain the neutral wrist alignment without bending or twisting it.
Hence, one can wear a splint, brace or cast to limit/restrict the movement of your wrist. This way, you can ensure the hand is straight without momentary lapse, even though you forget about the condition during day-to-day activities.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain-relieving medications are generally prescribed to reduce swelling and severe pain. Inflammation is the primary contributing factor to TFCC tears. Hence these drugs can effectively alleviate the symptoms through their anti-inflammatory properties.
These medications are available as both over-the-counter and prescription options that work by decreasing the chemical production called prostaglandins responsible for inflammation and pain.
It also promotes blood clotting. Some of the most often used NSAIDs are
- Aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin, Bufferin),
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin),
- Naproxen (Anaprox DS, Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
NSAIDs may cause side effects over time when taken for a prolonged time. Also, it might lose effectiveness when you take them daily for several months.
Research has suggested that physical therapy is one of the effective and long-term TFCC tear treatment options, improving the condition through hands-on care and prescribed movement for patients. Your physical therapist will analyze your condition and design a specific treatment program, including exercises and techniques to speed up your recovery.
An effective physical therapy program helps you achieve the best results more quickly by implementing indulged starching, motion and strengthening exercises. It will benefit you in various ways. Some are mentioned below:
- Decreased Pain and Swelling
The physical therapist will teach you how to modify or avoid certain activities that will progress your symptoms. They will also use ice, heat, electric stimulation, massage, and ultrasound to stimulate healing.
- Increased Range-of-Motion
Performing specific activities and movements will help you restore healthy arm, hand and wrist mobility. It will begin with a passive motion by gently moving the wrist to prevent any issues from lack of use due to TFCC tears.
- Improve Strength and Endurance
Restoring muscle endurance and strength after the TFCC tear is essential. Therefore, you must follow a proper exercise regimen and techniques, including stretch bands and cuff weights, to regain strength before the injury.
Corticosteroid injections help with pain and inflammation that occur due to TFCC injury. Cortisone is a type of steroid and a potential anti-inflammatory element. The physician will directly inject it into the exact location of the tear.
The injection resembles the cortisol hormone (naturally produced by the adrenal glands). It lowers the prostaglandins levels and lessens the inflammatory response.
In most cases, ultrasound guidance is implemented to ensure the corticosteroid injections’ accuracy. Ultrasound-assisted injections decrease pain effectively and allow people to recover properly during rehabilitation. However, you shouldn’t get the injection more than once every six weeks and not more than four times a year.
Super Concentrated Platelet Procedure (SCP):
Super concentrated platelet procedure, a minimally invasive treatment that utilizes the healing properties of the patient’s own blood. This concentrate is then carefully injected into the affected area. SCP therapy facilitates tissue repair, reduces inflammation, and accelerates the healing process, aiding in the restoration of spine health.
Amidst our hectic life schedule, we often miss out on the body’s signs calling for immediate help. TFCC serves as a shock absorber for joints on the hands.
TFCC tears might be a normal condition and can be treated. Nevertheless, it can proactively interfere with your normal tasks, preventing you from engaging in daily work or recreational activities that you enjoy.
When left unnoticed, a mere tear or injury will become chronic. Therefore it is important to understand the condition better and recognize the root cause by consulting with an orthopaedic specialist.
An early and accurate diagnosis will help you work on the personalized treatment aspect to improve the condition by repairing the damage and restoring the strength and mobility of your wrist joints.