If you have taken a fall on an outstretched hand with the palm facing down, you might have injured the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC). The TFCC provides stability to the wrist bones, acts as a shock absorber and helps the wrist to move.
Gymnasts, athletes and those with repetitive strong forces on the wrist are at risk for this type of injury. Also at risk are those who use mechanical drills because the drill can bind and forcibly rotate the wrist. Symptoms of a TFCC tear include swelling and tenderness in the wrist, clicking or crackling noises when you move your wrist, and pain and weakness.
Treatment depends on the stability of the wrist. If the wrist is unstable and has severely torn tissues, surgery may be needed. At a minimum, your wrist and forearm will need a cast or splint, along with physical therapy for rehabilitation. Physical therapy is critical to improving your range-of-motion and strength of the wrist where the ligaments heal.
If the wrist is stable, physical therapy may be all that is needed for an excellent outcome. After assessing stiffness, strength, swelling and any functional losses in your wrist and forearm, we will devise a comprehensive program that may include
- flexion and extension exercises (moving wrist up and down)
- pain management techniques
- exercises for grip strength
- functional exercises based on your occupation
Movement of your fingers and thumb will be encouraged to reduce swelling and promote fluid movement, particularly if you are wearing a splint. Daily tasks, such as folding laundry and using cutlery, can help you regain function in your wrist. Your prescribed exercises will improve movement and strength, while enhancing wrist flexibility and coordination.
An occupational assessment, when appropriate, will identify risk factors for re-injury. With an individualized program of rehabilitation, you can expect pain-free, full wrist movement in your daily activities. Importantly, this sequence takes months—you must be a patient patient!
Schedule your physical therapy appointment today at any of our 21 locations throughout Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland.
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*Some restrictions apply.