Triangular fibrocartilage complex injury

Arms | Orthopaedics | Triangular fibrocartilage complex injury (Disease)


The Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) is a structure that is made of cartilage and ligaments. It is located on the ulnar side of the wrist (side toward the little finger). The TFCC stabilizes the bones in the wrist, acts as a shock absorber, and enables smooth movements.

The TFCC is located on the ulnar side of the wrist. It consists of ligaments and two cartilage structures called the triangular fibrocartilage and the meniscus homolog. Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bones. Cartilage acts as a cushion and is a smooth surface for the bones in the wrist joint to glide on during movement. The TFCC stabilizes the wrist joint, the distal joint, and the ulnar carpus. The cartilage and ligaments composing the TFCC are prone to degeneration and tearing. They do not have a good blood supply and therefore, injuries do not heal well. The TFCC can tear as the result of a wrist injury.

Causes and Risk factors

The TFCC may be injured during a fall, sports, or on the job. An injured TFCC causes pain and may produce a clicking noise when the wrist is moved in certain ways.

The wrist can be injured during a fall on an outstretched hand. Forceful twisting and pulling movements can injure the wrist. This may occur in sports, such as when swinging a bat or hitting a ball with a racquet. These movements may also take place at work when using tools and equipment. TFCC injury causes wrist pain, particularly when moving your hand to the little finger side (ulnar deviation), or turning the wrist to face the hand upward (supination). Your wrist may feel week and unstable. Your wrist may catch or not be able to produce smooth movements. You may hear a clicking noise when you move your wrist.

Diagnosis and Treatment

TFCC injuries are treated with anti-inflammatory and pain medication, splinting, casting, or surgery.