Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC)

Deep within the wrist lies the TFCC, a composite of structures ensuring strength and flexibility. Its vulnerability to certain injuries underscores its importance in our daily hand functions.

Sep 2022

Table of contents

What is the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex?

Your Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) is a structure that serves as a sling to hold the outside of your wrist together. It comprises the fibrocartilage articular disc, the meniscal homologue, the palmar and dorsal radioulnar ligaments, the ulnar capsule, the Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) subsheath, the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ), and the ulnocarpal joint, providing firm support for your wrist grip and for rotating objects.

The TFCC is primarily injured in twisting positions and is often associated with high mechanical force. The middle structure has minimal blood supply, so healing can take a long time. If the outside of the TFCC is damaged, then the injury can heal conservatively. However, if it is a severe tear, surgery may be required.

Infographic of wrist, radius, ulna & ECU

What may I experience?

  • Localised tenderness on the outside of your wrist & general weakness
  • Swelling around the wrist
  • Pain with twisting of the wrist
  • Difficulty with gripping and lifting

What should I do?

Following assessment by your therapist, you may be required to wear either a custom-made TFCC splint, a wrist widget, have your wrist taped, or a combination of both. Your wrist will need support for a minimum of three weeks for minor injuries, and up to three months for more severe injuries.

Therapy will focus on a graded exercise program addressing proprioception, isometric, dynamic and rotational stability, along with weight-bearing exercises. In all cases, we will educate you to make some modifications to your home and work environments. Self-management and an exercise program to follow at home are also necessary and highly recommended.

Back side of right arm and hand with wrist widget

Share this guide:

See All Injuries