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Tfcc degenerative tear, (yes I've read the other threads)

Original Post
Jack Sparrow · · denver, co · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 1,515

Hey guys first off let me say I have read all the forums on this extensively, there is a lot of info but no cases I found are similar to this, also I can't go to a dr right now, so that advice isn't needed. I have been dealing with a degenerative tfcc tear on both wrists, This is a self diagnosis that I'm fairly confident about due to exstensive research on this injury.  Here's what I'm curious about, I seem to have all the symptons of this condition. I was training heavily on sloapers ( four hours daily three rest days a week) along with the training I started a job bussing tables after which was quite hard on the wrist as well. After about a month of this I started to notice the pain come on gradually in both wrists ulnar side some times pain on the back of hand as well, accompanied by a slight clicking. At this point I stopped climbing for two months, unfortuanatly the pain got worst due to work ( pain level never goes above a two just slight discomfort) I did not wear any brace at this time. One month after stopping climbing I quit work and began wearing an assortment of braces for a few weeks, no real change in pain or discomfort. About a week ago I got the wrist widget, I did it's weight bearing test with out it on the wrist, and found both my wrists could support a healthy amount of weight (over seventy pounds pain free). My wrist really only hurts when I twist it in weird ways like pulling up pants or buttering toast, either way pain is still minimal. Right now though I'm at a crosswords were I have a two month trip to rodellar on May first, I guess my real question is, is it realistic to expect to climb, without further the damage to the wrists if I wear the wrist widgets, cause right now it still doesn't feel injured it feels tweaked and sore in some positions, but two months of rest isn't helping it settle. So if it's a slight injury why didn't it get better with rest, and if it's a serious one why doesn't it hurt more. Thanks if anyone has advice, either way it feels good just to write it all down. 

Sean Cunningham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

I've had the same injury for going on 3 months now.  Took a forced 5 weeks off (due to hernia surgery)  wrist got better but never fully healed.  My only real restriction is I can't do push ups.  At all.  Shooting pain and I just don't have the wrist flex I did before the injury.  I can hangboard, do pull ups.  As far as climbing.  The only tbing that gives me trouble are pinches on overhangs with my injured wrist.  Just dont have the strength anymore.  I do tape my wrist up religiously now.  I'm not sure it'll ever be 100% again.  _Obviously every body is different but my unprofessional opinion is tape it well and climb on.  Maybe gets some anti inflammatory meds to keep the swelling down after you climb.  Good luck.  

Mike broad · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 140

Hey Jack,

I've been dealing with a TFCC tear too.  I took 5 weeks off of climbing and worked with a PT for it.  My PT guy told me he thought I was good to go with no restrictions but I was skeptical so I went to an orthopedist.  The orthopedist gave me a steroid shot and then told me the same thing, go ahead no restrictions.  My biggest advice is to wear that wrist widget religiously.  Mine seemed to get better when I started really wearing it a lot.  I went ahead and started climbing even though it didn't quite feel right.  It's been getting better and I've been climbing a lot and even hangboarding too.  I'm avoiding slopers a bit, and I also stopped doing any pullups on my hangboard.  I also stopped doing pushups.  The exercises I like for it are rubber bands and reverse wrist curls (with low weight like 10 lbs.).  

So, I agree with Sean, it seems like climbing with a TFCC tear can actually be ok!

Jack Sparrow · · denver, co · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 1,515

hey thanks guys i appreciate the responses. been climbing a bit and ordered a wrist widget for the other hands, im optimistic.

Edubs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0

I had a bad TFCC tear a few years ago. I wasn't able to turn my wrist over to type or anything for probably about 6 months, and it was sore much longer than that. I rested it and did PT, but it didn't really start healing until my physical therapist made me a brace that went all the way up to my elbow to lock the wrist in place so that I didn't turn the wrist over at all. I guess because you can't help but move the wrist that way unless it's immobilized I was never really giving it a true chance to rest. Anyway once I started wearing that brace I started to get better quickly. It was annoying, because the doc never suggested such a thing. It was only because I wasn't getting better that my PT thought of it and made me one herself. 

Anyway I hope you get better soon, and are able to climb on your trip. I never found the wrist widget that helpful, but I'm glad you're having some success with it. 

Jeremy Kasmann · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

I had wrist pain that I self diagnosed as TFCC last summer.  I rested a while and it didn't improve so I had an MRI which showed no TFCC tear, but inflammation in the wrist, likely from overuse (climbing + work).  Symptoms sound very similar to yours.  It responded to tennis elbow protocol, plus avoiding overuse at work, the real root cause.  Rest from climbing alone often does nothing for tendinitis when there are other causes like work.  Self diagnosis is not very reliable in this area, get a scan if you can (esp before a big trip!).

sarahd · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 10

Hi Jack, 

I had a degenerative tfcc tear in my left wrist along with a torn lunotriquetral ligament.  In my case, both were caused by ulnar impaction syndrome (my ulna bone was just a little too long).  I ultimately had surgery to shorten the ulna very slightly and repair the cartilage and ligament (sounds terrible, but really wasn't too bad).  The driver for surgery was definitely the torn ligament.  My doc said that climbers often deal with tfcc tears just fine because most climbing moves tend to open the joint.  I actually had a tfcc flare up 8 or nine months after the surgery and went back to the doc.  He offered a cortisone shot if it didn't improve, but after lots of ibuprofen I managed to get past the inflammation.   That was several months ago now and I haven't had any problems with my wrist since then. Sometimes I notice a tiny bit of pain in the tfcc area of my "good wrist".  I'm guessing I'm probably symmetrical and have ulnar impaction syndrome in that arm too.  

I hope your wrist pain improves.  


Jack Sparrow · · denver, co · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 1,515

Hey thx a lot Sarah, luckily I've found a routine of stretching, massage and ice ing have made quite the difference, along with wrist widgets while climbing.  Back to full time climbing with still slight pain but very manageable

Gabe B. · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 88

I had similar symptoms, went to a hand specialist. No TFCC tear, just overuse. However. From my understanding, the TFCC does not get a ton of blood, so it does not heal quickly. If you continue to abuse it, it will get to a point where it will never heal. If you want to climb for the rest of your life, take the time to rest it. Go to a doctor when you can.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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