Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Injuries and Medical Advice

TFCC Tear

I had an accident eight weeks ago where I fell from my skateboard. My wrist hurt for three to four weeks. I went to a hand doctor and had an MRI (without dye) that showed a TFCC tear.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All Access
Fall Sale
$1.52 / week*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Today’s Plan training platform with customized training plans
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

I had an accident eight weeks ago where I fell from my skateboard. My wrist hurt for three to four weeks. I went to a hand doctor and had an MRI (without dye) that showed a TFCC tear. I was placed in a splint for four weeks. Although it is feeling better, I haven’t done anything since it’s been in the splint. I recently went back to my hand doctor and he said I should be in the splint for four months! No climbing, lifting, even riding a bike. Is this normal treatment? What’s the natural progression for a TFCC tear? Do they heal? When does one decide to do surgery? Physical therapy? I’m getting weaker every day but don’t want to jeopardize my wrist.

—JT, via rockandice.com

Diddims! I haven’t had sex for months at a time. Imagine that! Dude, you’re only talking about climbing, get things into perspective.

Still, I’ve never heard of immobilization for that length of time. Four to six weeks is more common for a conservative approach.

The TFCC sits between the end of the ulna and the carpal bones on the little-finger side of the wrist, affording greater stability and functionality.

I tend to keep TFCC injuries quite mobile, making sure the patient avoids high-risk activities, like big-game hunting with Tasers. Although rehab therapy
has shifted away from prolonged immobilization, even for many fractures, there is a “Tea Party” faction in every group.

[Also Read Beyond Tape: Bicep Tendinitis]

TFCC tears may or may not heal, but like most cartilage injuries, they tend to settle down and life goes on until your next impact injury. Depending on
the severity, damage to the TFCC can lead to early arthritic degeneration.

Becoming weaker is a natural consequence of injury. In the short term you will become a worse climber, grumpier and generally a bit of an ass. But in the
long run it’s your choice as to whether you learn something from the horrid experience of not being able to climb. Take the opportunity to strengthen
your mind, talk to your partner, call your mama.

On the up side, you can learn a lot by lurking around at the local gym—like who is hot and single. You may also learn something about why certain
climbers fail and others succeed.

[Also Read Complete Elbow Health]

Surgery really only becomes an option when the pain, even after conservative alternatives, persists. Surgery may also be an option when there is a precipitating
issue, such as positive ulna variance (the ulna is longer than it should be) leading to TFCC damage.

 


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 200 (March 2012).