What is triangulo-fibro cartilage complex?

What is it?

Your triangulo-fibro cartilage complex (TFCC) is a structure that sits as a sling to hold the outside of your wrist together. It consists of 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 a firm support for your wrist grip and to rotate objects. The TFCC is injured primarily in twisting positions and often associated with a 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. If it is a severe tear, then surgery may be required.

Infographic of wrist, radius, ulna & ECU

What do 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 3 weeks for minor injuries, and up to 3 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 is also necessary and highly recommended.

Back side of right arm and hand with wrist widget

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

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