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Old 10-05-2012, 08:50 PM   #1
 
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Default Potential cartilage tear in right wrist, scared...

I'm posting here because this is the most active forum I'm a part of, and I really appreciate any experiences you guys can share. I have been having wrist pain in the ulnar side of my right wrist for about four months now. I've had an x-ray (negative), nerve conduction test (normal), and an MRI. My GP's nurse called me after the MRI (a week ago) and said that there was indication of a cartilage tear and referred me to an orthopedist. I scheduled an appointment with the orthopedist for next Thursday (two weeks after the MRI).

I know the orthopedist will be the best person to advise me, but I still have another week to wait and I'm really nervous. In the past week since the MRI, my wrist has gone from annoying and occasionally painful to a constant ache, sometimes bad enough for me to medicate (and I am pretty stoic). The MRI technician had to brace my wrist for the scan and the weather has gotten much colder so I don't know if either of those things could be causing an increase in pain. I'm also getting from several sources that a cartilage tear can't heal so I will need surgery to repair it.

My left wrist has started bothering me some too, and I don't know if I am perhaps overusing it now since it is painful for me to use my right? In January, I was diagnosed with Reynaud's syndrome, which I know can be associated with arthritis, and since I'm now experiencing some pain in both wrists I'm worried this could be arthritis onset (I'm only 28 ).

Anyway, I guess mostly I'm terrified of having surgery (I've only had one other procedure and it was just a diagnostic laparascope, so not very invasive), and even more terrified that I could be developing arthritis. I would really appreciate hearing stories from anyone else who has experienced similar symptoms. Thanks!
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:22 PM   #2
 
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Hi stellarcurls. Sorry to hear about the trouble with your wrist. Not knowing your case in depth, I can't comment on it with certainty, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I am a physical therapist, and I have never seen a person who was post-surgical from having a TFCC repair (triangular fibrocartilage complex) which is what I think you are referring to.

Generally, cartilage is very slow to heal because cartilage does not have a very good blood supply (blood flow brings nutrients and other aids to healing). Sometimes if there is a large piece of cartilage that is torn, it is possible for a surgeon to go into a joint and put a suture in the torn cartilage to facilitate union and healing; this is usually in the knee and sometimes the shoulder. As I said, I have never seen a client who had a surgical repair of the wrist cartilage. In my experience, most of the time the joint is splinted and given "relative rest" (not exactly an order for complete non-use but a request for light duty) which often resolves the issue over time.

On a non-professional level, I had a wrist injury in high school and a very prominent hand physician in my area was unable to provide answers as to what was going on. I had multiple tests done, even an MRI, and I still had no answers. I was prescribed medicine and a wrist brace. After relative rest and splinting for several months (no meds involved), the issue was mostly resolved. Several years later, I can say that I have no problems. Early on, I was also "diagnosed" with osteoarthrits. In my opinion, arthritis is an easy answer for most kinds of joint pain, even if it is in a young person (I was in my early 20's). Curiously, I also have Reynaud's, but have never heard that it was associated with arthritis.

If I were you, I wouldn't get too caught up in the "diagnosis" of arthritis or Reynaud's. In many cases, time is often the best medicine.

I strongly recommend looking into physical therapy before you opt for a surgical approach to your wrist pain. Most physical therapy clinics accept walk-in patients, but it is good to let them know you're coming. Try it out for a little while and see if you're still interested in surgery. I'm interested in what you think!
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:04 AM   #3
 
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Hi Laura (I'm a Laura too :-)),

Thanks for your input. I've heard Raynaud's CAN be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, among other connective tissue disorders, but not always. I had bloodwork done when I was diagnosed and I didn't have any other indicators.

My doctor did not specify that it was TFCC but due to the location I assume that's what it is. What I've read says that conservative treatment is usually for weeks if bracing and taking it easy and I've been doing that for 6 weeks now and it seems to be getting worse and not better. It's good to hear that there is a possibility of it healing on its own with more supportive care.

I will definitely look into physical therapy after I speak to the doctor. I'm lucky to have great insurance through my boyfriend.

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Old 10-06-2012, 09:26 AM   #4
 
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I had several tears in my left wrist years ago. Ligaments and tendons. No clue how I did it but the pain got progressively worse until I could barely hold anything in that hand. I had surgery to repair. Within maybe 24 hours of surgery, the pain was considerably less than before. I did not go to physical therapy after. Just had some small exercises to do at home.

Good luck at your appointment with the ortho.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:05 AM   #5
 
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DarkAngel, can you tell me how long your recovery was? Did you have to wear a sling? A cast or just a brace? Thanks!

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Old 10-06-2012, 10:14 AM   #6
 
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It was 6 years ago so I do not remember very well. I think I wore really heavy padding for a week or so. I vaguely remember wearing a brace but I think it was very limited. Not full time. Never a sling. Recovery was easy and I was using my wrist more than before surgery as soon as the initial wrappings came off.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:27 AM   #7
 
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FYI, where we tend to rest our wrist while using a computer and our arm/elbow on armrests puts pressure on the ulnar nerve. It can create (if done excessively) or aggravate any problems in that area.
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:32 PM   #8
 
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That's reassuring that you were always able to use your hand somewhat as I am very right-handed and work 55-60 hours a week (not to mention little things like driving and dressing myself).

Cympreni, my symptoms actually started after I spent about 36 hours over 3-4 days playing a new video game that required constant clicking (as opposed to just intermittent clicking and mouse movement). I don't know if that caused the injury or just exacerbated an existing problem (I exercise decently often including weight-lifting). Since I hurt my wrist I've been only using my laptop which changes the position of my hand and arm so it isn't painful.

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Old 10-12-2012, 08:51 PM   #9
 
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Update if anyone is interested: I had my appointment with the orthopedist yesterday. He confirmed that I have a TFCC tear, and recommended a cortisone shot and another few weeks of bracing. If that doesn't work, he will refer me to a hand surgeon. I liked the doc okay, but no one told me that the cortisone shot would be very painful--my wrist is still very sore at the injection site over 24 hours later. The nurse also forgot about me! I warned the nurse before the injection that I could be squeamish and have thrown up/almost passed out before when having blood drawn (I'm a baby, I know--can't help it). The injection was really painful and I started to lose it so I said I didn't feel very good. The doc was almost done so he finished up, and the nurse told me she wanted me to lie down on the table. I did that and both the doc and nurse left. So, 45 min later, I'm still in the room by myself. I finally stuck my head out the door and asked if I was still supposed to be waiting, and the nurse said, "oh no, you can go." Would have been nice if she had told me that! I had to ask about follow up (when I should call/make an appointment, when I should expect it to feel better, etc.) standing in the hallway. When I walked out, the receptionist was putting on her coat to leave! I was glad I didn't actually pass out as I don't think anyone would have found me until the next day.
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:34 PM   #10
 
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Thanks for the update. I hope the worst is over.
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