Triangular fibrocartilage

What is triangular fibrocartilage?

The triangular fibrocartilage (TFC), also known as the articular disc, is a structure located on the ulnar aspect of the wrist.

As its name suggests, it is triangular in shape and extends horizontally. Specifically, it is located between the ulnar head and the proximal ulnar articular surface of the carpus.

The base of the triangular fibrocartilage inserts into the ulnocarpal ligamentous complex, which is formed by the ulnar-pyramidal and ulnar-semilunar ligaments. This also reinforces the edges of the triangular fibrocartilage, as well as the anterior and posterior radioulnar ligaments.

Function of the triangular fibrocartilage

The main function of the triangular fibrocartilage is to stabilize the inferior radioulnar joint, which is located between the ulna and the radius. This allows limiting ulnar deviation, avoiding the collision between the pyramidal and the ulnar head.

Pathologies that the triangular fibrocartilage can suffer from

The main pathologies that the triangular fibrocartilage can suffer is the fracture of the structure, that is to say, the wrist fracture or the extra-articular fractures. These types of fractures can be divided into two groups: degenerative injuries and traumatic injuries.

On the one hand, degenerative injuries are those that occur in people over 30 years of age, because from this time onwards, the probability of injury increases, especially after the age of 60. This type of injury is due to a progressive wear of the components of the structure.

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And, on the other hand, traumatic injuries are those that occur in patients who have suffered a fall with the support of the hand. This type of injury is very frequent in athletes who practice contact sports, such as rugby, soccer and basketball, among others.

Treatments for the pathologies of the triangular fibrocartilage

When there is a triangular fibrocartilage injury whose pain and instability does not improve with analgesic or rehabilitative treatment, the indicated treatment in this case is wrist arthroscopy.

Initially, the recommended indications are rest and anti-inflammatory and analgesic treatments, because in many triangular fibrocartilage injuries surgical intervention is not necessary to improve their symptoms. This is especially true for small lesions that can heal well without surgery.

When this type of treatment does not work, arthroscopy is established as the technique for correcting wrist injuries. This allows to diagnose the presence of tears in this structure, as well as to perform a surgical treatment at the same time.

Specialist who treats the pathologies of the triangular fibrocartilage

The expert in charge of the treatment of all the pathologies that can affect the triangular fibrocartilage is the specialist in traumatology.