Triangular fibrocartilage complex tears are painful and can affect a person’s ability to use their hand or wrist. But what is a TFCC tear exactly? And how is this injury treated? Understanding what this injury is and how to identify its symptoms can help you resume a pain-free life faster. Explore our guide to TFCC tears and learn how a wrist specialist can help you regain mobility in your wrist.
What Is a TFCC Tear?
The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) connects the hand and forearm bones to form the wrist. Your TFCC is made up of several ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. It helps your wrist move and stabilizes the forearm when gripping something with your hand or rotating your forearm. A TFCC tear is any injury or damage to this area. There are two types of TFCC tears:
Type 1: These tears result from a physical injury. This often occurs when a person overextends their wrist or falls on their hand with it extended.
Type 2: These tears occur gradually and can result from damage due to aging or an underlying health condition, gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
TFCC tears commonly cause pain in the wrist. The pain may be constant or only appear when you apply pressure to your wrist or move it. Other symptoms of a TFCC tear can include:
Weakness or stiffness in the wrist
A limited range of motion in the hand or wrist
Loss of grip strength
A clicking or popping sound when you move your wrist
Athletes who regularly put pressure on their wrists — like tennis players or gymnasts — have a higher risk of developing a TFCC tear. You are also at a higher risk of a TFCC tear if you have previously injured your wrist.
TFCC Tear Treatment
If you suspect a TFCC tear, the first thing you should do is temporarily stop doing any activities that cause wrist pain to allow the injury to heal. You might need to wear a cast or splint to prevent your wrist from moving. Your wrist specialist will also likely recommend physical therapy. This involves doing gentle exercises to rebuild strength in your TFCC. If non-surgical treatments don’t provide any relief, you may need surgery to repair the tear.
Surgery to treat a TFCC tear involves a minimally invasive procedure called a wrist arthroscopy. During the surgery, your doctor will make several small incisions on the wrist’s outer edge to repair the damaged portion of the TFCC. Sometimes, they may also shorten the ulna — a long bone in the forearm — to alleviate your symptoms. You must wear a cast for a few weeks after the procedure to allow the area to heal.
Recovery usually takes a few weeks for TFCC tears that don’t require surgery. However, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before you regain full use of your wrist if you do need surgery. Doing physical therapy and avoiding activities that strain your wrist can help speed up your recovery time.
THURSDAY, April 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — In a discovery that shows carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t strike just office workers, researchers report that people who work in construction or manufacturing have a higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome than those with desk jobs.
Why the higher rates of injury among manual laborers? Investigators found such work requires lifting, gripping and forceful wrist motion, all of which are associated with higher rates of carpal tunnel syndrome.
“This study is an important reminder that carpal tunnel is a primary contributor to hand and upper extremity pain in both the clerical and manufacturing work places, and that ergonomic conditions for workers in both industries should be equally considered,” said study senior investigator Dr. Charles Day. He is executive vice chair and chief of hand and upper extremity surgery in the department of orthopedic surgery at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common work-related injuries. It causes swelling of the ligaments and bones in the wrist, leading to nerve compression. Common symptoms range from mild occasional numbness in the fingers to hand weakness, loss of feeling, extreme night pain and loss of hand function.
Motions associated with a risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include high-force hammering, long-term use, extreme wrist motions and vibration, the study authors noted in a health system news release.
Carpal tunnel injuries in the United States have steadily declined, from 1.3 million in 2003 to 900,380 in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures.
When health care costs, reduced productivity, missed work and the potential lost income from changing careers are considered, the typical carpal tunnel syndrome case may have an overall societal cost of between $47,000 and $119,000, the study findings showed.
Carpal tunnel syndrome in the United States is estimated to cost more than $2 billion a year, mainly due to surgery, mental health treatment, and loss of earnings and productivity.
The report was published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome share similar symptoms, but they are distinct conditions affecting different nerves in the elbow and wrist.
If you’re experiencing pain and numbness in your fingers, you may assume you have carpal tunnel syndrome. But did you know another condition — called cubital tunnel syndrome — could also be the source of these symptoms?
Both carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome result from nerve compression; however, the damaged nerve for each is located in a different part of the body. In cubital tunnel syndrome, the ulnar nerve within the elbow becomes compressed due to injury or repeated bending of the elbow. The ulnar nerve sits inside the cubital tunnel, a passageway consisting of bone, muscle, and ligaments.
On the other hand, the compressed nerve causing carpal tunnel syndrome is the median nerve in the wrist. Repetitive motions of the hand and wrist (such as typing), fractures, and sprains are typically to blame. In addition, chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis are considered risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Despite some similarities — compressed nerves, hand pain, weakness when gripping objects — cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome are characterized by several differences. Knowing the symptoms for each can help you identify which condition you may have and determine the right treatment.
Carpal Tunnel vs. Cubital Tunnel
Both syndromes affect the hand and fingers, but the pain, tingling, and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome is felt most acutely in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. It’s also characterized by pain and burning in the hand and wrist that sometimes radiates up the forearm to the elbow.
Meanwhile, cubital tunnel syndrome is marked by numbness, pain, and tingling in the little and ring fingers as well as the inside of the hand. If you have cubital tunnel syndrome, you may notice these symptoms flare up at night when you bend your elbow for long periods as you sleep.
Diagnosing cubital tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome begins with a physical examination. An orthopedist may also perform a nerve conduction study to assess nerve impulses in the wrist or elbow. Weak nerve activity in a certain area could indicate, for example, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treating the Symptoms
Treatment options differ for each syndrome, although conservative therapies are recommended at first to reduce symptoms and restore function to the hand. Because cubital tunnel symptoms are more pronounced at night, you might be advised to wear a brace that straightens the elbow while you rest. Wrapping your arm in a towel to keep it straight can work as well.
If conservative treatments fail to relieve the nerve compression or muscle wasting is severe, surgery is another option. Two types of cubital tunnel surgery are currently performed: a medical epicondylectomy and an ulnar nerve transposition. In a medial epicondylectomy, the bony bump inside the elbow (the medial epicondyle) is removed. This allows the ulnar nerve to flex and straighten without pain. For an ulnar nerve transposition, the surgeon creates a new cubital tunnel and moves the ulnar nerve to the recreated tunnel.
Treating carpal tunnel syndrome non-surgically usually entails resting the hand, avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, wearing a splint for several weeks, and applying ice to reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatories and steroids may also be prescribed. Once the pain subsides, you can practice exercises to stretch and strengthen the wrist and hand.
If these conservative treatments don’t alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms, surgery to relieve pressure on the median nerve by cutting the transverse carpal ligament may be necessary. This procedure is followed by physical therapy to strengthen the wrist.
What’s Causing Your Hand Pain?
If you’re experiencing hand and finger pain, you may be suffering from either cubital tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctors at Comprehensive Orthopaedics can diagnose your condition and prescribe the proper treatment regimen. Whether through conservative therapy or surgery, our goal is to help our patients live pain-free. Contact us today for an appointment.
FRIDAY, March 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — You use your hands nearly every minute of the day, so any time they hurt it’s important to find out why.
Certain conditions can affect people who do the same hand movements for hours every day. Repetitive strain injury can cause pain in muscles, nerves and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome swelling compresses a key nerve. The lesser known de Quervain’s tenosynovitis typically affects tendons on the inner sides of the wrist.
An autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis often causes joint pain. Without treatment, it can lead to deformities in your hands. The wrist and finger joints are common targets of osteoarthritis, which occurs over time from normal wear-and-tear.
Treatment might start with an over-the-counter or prescription NSAID to temporarily relieve pain, but their long-term use has been linked to side effects such as liver or kidney damage and elevated heart attack risk.
Stronger medications may be needed to stop a degenerative disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Corticosteroid injections are an occasional option to reduce inflammation. Heat can ease stiffness while a cold pack can relieve soreness. If you have a chronic condition, an occupational therapist can teach you how to limit stress on joints when using your hands. During a flare, he or she might suggest a splint to stabilize your hand.
Sometimes surgery is needed. Dupuytren’s contracture, a thickening under the skin on the palm of the hand, can develop into firm lumps that cause fingers to bend inward. Unless lumps are removed early, it may be impossible to straighten fingers later on. If other options don’t help carpal tunnel and de Quervain’s, surgery might be the answer.
Many conditions worsen without appropriate treatment, so don’t delay in seeing your doctor or a hand specialist.
Tendonitis can affect anybody, from office workers to athletes. Here’s how to keep your symptoms under control.
Tendonitis is a common problem, affecting athletes, office workers, and musicians alike. Indeed, it can affect almost any part of the body, though it’s most common in the tendons of the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. Some of the most frequent types include patellar tendinitis (or “jumper’s knee”), lateral epicondylitis in the elbow (or “tennis elbow”), and Achilles tendinitis.
As common as it is, however, tendonitis can be a debilitating condition, creating chronic pain and greatly restricting the patient’s range of motion. Fortunately, some basic knowledge of its common causes and symptoms can help you seek relief from this condition.
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF TENDONITIS
Tendons are strands of elastic fibrous tissue that connect muscles to bones, providing stability to the joints and enabling a free range of motion. Any tendon in the body can become inflamed or irritated, causing pain, tenderness, and swelling in the affected tissue.
The most common cause of tendonitis is prolonged stress or gradual wear caused by repetitive movements, though it can also be caused by sudden trauma. As a result, most people develop tendonitis while performing their jobs, enjoying hobbies that rely on a specific joint, or playing sports A typist, for example, is most likely to have tendonitis in the wrist, while weightlifters may suffer from biceps tendinitis. Aging also increases the likelihood of developing tendonitis, since tendons become less flexible with age.
TREATMENT FOR TENDONITIS
The severity of tendonitis can vary greatly depending on the specific cause of the inflammation and the particular tendon affected. Most cases of tendonitis, however, can be successfully treated without surgery. Some of the most common courses of treatment include:
Resting the affected area
Avoiding activities that cause flare-ups or increased pain
Taking over the counter anti-inflammatories like Advil or Aleve
If your tendonitis does not respond to these conservative treatments, the inflamed tendon may need to be repaired with a minimally invasive surgery. During the procedure, your surgeon will mend any tears in the tendon and remove any permanently damaged tissue.
Since tendonitis is an injury that often results from overuse, the best treatment in many cases is simply to refrain from using the joint in question. Some effective preventative measures include stretching before exercise, wearing protective braces, using proper technique when lifting, and always maintaining correct posture.
Whether you suffer from tennis elbow or jumper’s knee, our team at New York Bone and Joint can help. With decades of combined experience in treating injured tendons, our specialists are able to provide comprehensive assistance at every stage of the process, from identifying the source of the problem to crafting a personalized treatment plan. If you worry that you may have tendonitis, contact us today to schedule a consultation.