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Arthroscopy with TFCC Repair

What is your TFCC?

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is a structure made of cartilage and ligaments in the wrist, located on the side of the small finger.  The TFCC supports and stabilizes the forearm and wrist, especially during rotation or load bearing.  Injury to the TFCC can be a result of trauma, such as falling onto an outstretched hand, or excessive rotation of the wrist but can also be caused by chronic degeneration.  Injury to the TFCC most commonly results in pain to the small finger side of the wrist.  Moving your wrist from side to side, rotating your forearm, or gripping objects can exacerbate pain.   Other common symptoms include swelling, decreased grip strength, or grinding/clicking when moving the wrist.


Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in which a camera is inserted directly into a joint space through a small incision.  This camera allows for direct visualization of the contents in a joint, in this case, to examine the nature and extent of damage to the TFCC.  Once visualized, repair can be conducted by inserting surgical instruments through another small incision into the joint space.  Depending on the extent of damage to the TFCC, arthroscopic repair can range from removing damaged tissue and cleaning the joint space to repairing ligaments with sutures. Arthroscopy with TFCC repair is done on an outpatient basis, meaning you will be able to go home the same day of the surgery.

Things to know:​

  • You will be discharged in a temporary splint that must be kept clean and dry until you are seen for follow up.
  • You will follow up with us in the office 1-2 days after the procedure. You will be sent for a custom ulnar gutter splint that is removable for showering ONLY.
  • After 48 hours you may shower. While showering, you may use soap and water, but be sure to pat the incision dry. It is important that you do not submerge your surgical incision in water (i.e. no bath tubs, swimming pools, washing dishes, etc.). While showering, it is important you do not use your hand/arm. After showering, pat incision dry and replace splint.
  • It is important to elevate your arm on a couple of pillows to alleviate pain and swelling.
  • Sutures will remain in place for 10-14 days.
  • Typically follow up appointments are scheduled in two-week intervals following surgery, so we can monitor your recovery.
  • You will wear your splint at all times for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, you will be referred for Occupational Therapy of the affected hand and wrist.
  • The splint will gradually be discontinued in the weeks to follow as you progress with occupational therapy. Your lifting restrictions will gradually be increased over the next 2-3 months.

Postoperative restrictions are as follows:

  • NO use of the affected hand.
  • Must wear splint at all times, except while showering.

Our Response to COVID-19

At Alan Chen Surgical Associates we are trying our very best to keep all our patients and staff members safe and healthy during these uncertain times. While we remain open to care for our post-surgical and emergent patients we are going to place limits and guidelines on those entering our office. Based on CDC guidelines, and recommendations, here are our current changes:

  1. We are only going to be open on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

  2. Only the patient being seen by one of our providers will be allowed in the clinic. We ask all family members to remain home or in their vehicle if they do accompany the patient to our office. If the patient is a minor, only one parent will be allowed to come into the clinic with the child.

  3. When you arrive to our office, please stay in your vehicle. Call our office at 815-729-9527 to alert the office staff you have arrived. We will call you once the provider is ready to see you for your appointment. Again, only the patient will then come into the office. All other persons remain in your vehicle.

  4. Prior to being seen in our office we have put a screening process in place. If you do not pass the screening process, you will be asked to reschedule your appointment. If you have any cold/flu symptoms, have recently traveled, or have a known exposure we ask that you please inform us and reschedule your appointment. If necessary, one of our providers would be happy to discuss any concerns you have over the phone!

Thank you for understanding our new policies. We are trying to limit the number of patients in our office at one time. This is to keep our patients, staff, and community safe and healthy during these times. Please help us try to flatten the curve.

Our Response to COVID-19