Understanding Your Wrist Injury

Diagnosis

The gold standard for imaging is an arthrogram.  This test involves injecting a dye into the wrist and imaging to determine if the dye leaks into the joint.

This is an invasive and expensive study so most physicians order an MRI first.  MRI’s are helpful but not always accurate.

This difficulty in accurately diagnosing a TFCC tear, inspired me to create and objective and reliable test that anyone can perform at home using an inexpensive non-digital scale (It cannot be performed on a digital scale).   I have learned that it is a priceless tool to assess the wrist. It is the single most effective way to determine TFCC tears.

If you have Ulnar (pinky) sided wrist pain, then it’s time to find out if it is a TFCC tear by doing the Weight Bearing Test.  A video and instructions can be found on the home page.

Some common signs and symptoms of a TFCC tear are:

  • Pain, localized to the ulnar (pinky) side
  • Pain that gets worse with simple gripping and rotation movements (opening a door or using a can opener)
  • It normally does not swell (but can if fracture or other injury occurs at same time).
  • Clicking, snapping, or crackling (crepitus) These are not present in all patients with TFCC tears.
  • Pain with weight bearing activities.
  • Feeling of instability

What is it?

More popularly known as the wrist meniscus; a kind of shock absorber for some of the joints in your wrist.

The TFCC can tear with rotational movements (hyper rotation whilst using a drill), excessive weight bearing, a fall on an outstretched hand etc.

There is an interesting subset of patients who develop a TFCC tear for no reason at all. Suddenly out of nowhere, their wrist starts to hurt.  I would love to hear about your case!  Email me if you would like to present your case: info@wristwidget.com

What does it do?

The TFCC is the main stabilizer of the wrist.  It is a ligament connecting bone to bone.  It supports the wrist with grip, weight bearing and rotation (supination and pronation)

Initial Treatment Steps

TFCC tears don’t cause loss of motion, or swell..  However a fracture or other injury can accompany a TFCC tear if there is swelling.

Wrist bracePurchase a protective wrist splint to prevent motion until you know what type of injury you have.  Make sure it doesn’t compress or squeeze the ulnar head (wrist bone).  If you don’t have swelling, you can use a heating pad on the wrist, or alternate hot/cold water over it.

Consult your physician for an exam and to get an x-ray (depending on your location this may take 1-3 weeks!). While you’re at it get a referral to a orthopedic hand specialist. Yes, wrists are tricky little things.  Believe us, it’s worth the extra step in your road to full recovery.

Radiograph Results

If the x-ray is negative >> continue with hand specialist referral.
If the x-ray is positive >> the physician will recommend casting.  Have the cast applied.

How Bad is it?

If you’ve not done the Weight Bearing Test … now is the time.  Look >> we’ve >> placed >> everything >> right >> here >> for you. >>  The video and written instructions. You don’t even have to leave this page.  Go ahead.  Do it.  We’ll wait for you.

Yes, you need a non-digital scale. Don’t have one?  Phone a friend.  The test must be done on a non-digital scale.

Write down the results you get for both wrists, before and after taping. Go ahead…. we’ll be right here waiting for you.

STOP • DO NOT PASS GO
UNTIL you have your weight bearing test results.

Do you have your numbers? All four of them? Ok, you may proceed.

Click the button that matches the test results from your injured wrist WITHOUT tape.

Weight Bearing Test to determine TFCC injury

• Use a NON digital scale

  1. Test on the unaffected wrist first  
  2. Test the affected wrist – slowly
            Stop at the edge of pain – any pain!

• Wrap 2 pieces of 1/2″ non-elastic tape around wrist (watch video for important instructions)
3.  RETEST with the tape on your wrist

If you have a TFCC injury there should be an immediate increase in weight bearing ability, and your pain should be greatly reduced.

Record your results
Right Hand without tape _______  with tape ________
Left Hand without tape   _______  with tape ________