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TFCC Tears and Illinois Work Injuries
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The Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) is located on the little finger side of your wrist. The TFCC helps stabilize the bones of the wrist so that the wrist can rotate and move freely. The TFCC is made of ligaments to connect bones and cartilage to provide a cushion and lubrication between the bones. The TFCC can become injured during a fall or while on the job, and is most commonly known as a “wrist sprain.”
What Causes Injury to the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex?
The ligaments and cartilage of the TFCC are prone to tearing. Most frequently, the TFCC is injured from a fall with an outstretched hand. We see a lot of workers that slip on the job and use their hands to break the fall come up with this injury. Similarly, forceful twisting or pulling movements while using tools and machinery at work can also result in a TFCC injury. The TFCC is also prone to degenerative disease or a weakening of ligament and cartilage. Treatment is often a challenge. Poor blood flow to the region can delay and prolong proper healing.
What are the Symptoms of Injury to the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex?
Commonly, people with a TFCC injury experience pain during wrist movement, especially if the wrist moves toward the pinky finger. It can be painful if you rotate your hand so that your palm is facing you. Therefore, pain can be experienced when turning a doorknob, using a can opener, or picking up a gallon of milk. Weakness and instability in the wrist can also occur. Furthermore, a clicking or popping sound (crepitus) is often heard during wrist movements.
Diagnosis of Injury to the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex
If you experience symptoms of injury to the TFCC, a physician will take a thorough medical history to determine the cause of the injury. X-rays, an MRI, or an MRI taken with an injected dye (arthrogram) to help the physician diagnose the condition with greater accuracy, are common diagnostic procedures. When these tests are not conclusive, a physician may order a surgical procedure (arthroscopy) to be performed. Small incisions are made near the wrist’s joints and a miniature camera (arthroscope) is inserted. This camera may be able to reveal tears in ligaments or cartilage that the x-ray or MRI failed to confirm.
Treatment of Injury to the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex
Treatment entirely depends on the specific symptoms and the gravity of the injury. In most cases, a physician will initially recommend wearing protective supports to immobilize the injury, such as a wrist brace, bandage, or a splint. Anti-inflammatory medication (Advil, Motrin) or stronger prescription pain relieving drugs may be prescribed. Icing and cortisone injections are other methods to relieve pain and inflammation.
When non-surgical treatments fail to alleviate symptoms, your physician may recommend arthroscopic surgery. This surgery uses the same method a doctor can use to diagnose TFCC injury. Debridement (smoothing and shaving) of any tears in cartilage is performed through tiny incisions in the wrist with a guiding camera and arthroscopic surgical instruments. In serious cases, sutures can also be used to repair the tears.
Work Related Injury to the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex
TFCC injuries often occur during employment. For example, a TFCC injury can occur if a worker slips and falls where the hand is outstretched, the palm impacts the ground, and the hand is forced upward. Another example is when a worker uses a drill. If the drill bit becomes suddenly stuck, the wrist, in place of the drill bit, can turn forcefully and cause injury to the TFCC.
Repetitive work related tasks can lead to degeneration of the TFCC. This degeneration leaves a worker more easily susceptible to a tear, especially in tasks that require the hand to be in a palm down position and require forceful gripping of objects. For example, in the case of a worker who continually, forcefully twisted and pulled plastic bags and lifted 15 pound shafts to feed a machine, the worker developed a compensable work related injury when her doctor diagnosed a tear in her TFCC.
In Illinois, if your job causes, aggravates or accelerates injury to your TFCC, then your injury should be 100% covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. In other words, even if you have a pre-existing condition, if it is in any way related to your job activities, then you should be receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois.
If your TFCC injury is work related, your attorney should work on a contingency basis. This means that you will not pay any attorneys’ fees unless you obtain a recovery. Also, your attorneys should advance all of the associated costs of the litigation. You should not be paying anything out of pocket. If you win, all fees, costs and expenses will come from the recovery amount. In Illinois workers’ compensation, attorney fees are capped at 20% of the total settlement.
Choosing an Attorney
We know numerous attorneys throughout the state who have great experience with workers compensation cases. If you have acquired a TFCC injury at work, any attorney that we recommend will have handled hundreds of wrist injury and workers’ compensation cases in past. They will be able to demonstrate great experience and that they truly understand the medicine involved. This doesn’t guarantee a result, but does give you the best chance for a successful result.
If you would like our help in finding a law firm in Illinois or if you just have any questions, please contact us at (800) 517-1614. We will speak with you for free and do whatever we can to help you. All calls are free and confidential.