PRP treatment for my wrist’s TFCC tear

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Five months ago I was diagnosed with a partial tear in my triangular fibrocartilage (TFCC). Unfortunately it’s in my dominant wrist and has halted my climbing, writing, and other weight-bearing activities for the past 9 months.

To see my previous articles on the diagnosis process, give these guys a read: diagnosis/treatment, MRI, pick-me-up for sad injured climbers 🙂

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment:

PRP is an active yet more conservative approach to treating tendon or cartilage that would’ve traditionally required surgery or steroid injections. My sports doctor had originally referred me for a surgical procedure expected to result in a month of rehab but full results. However, the consulting surgeon anticipated a painful three months of rehab in a cast.

Instead, he suggested I give PRP a go. Should the process work, I should regain most functionality of my wrist. However, unlike the more positive predictions of my doctors, he did warn that neither PRP nor surgery guarantee I will be able to climb hard again.

Procedure:

process-of-prp-therapy

I will be hooked up to a centrifuge that will filter blood from my arm into its main components. This process can take around 40 minutes. Then, they will extract and prepare a sample of the platelet-rich portion of my blood and inject it into my TFCC in hopes to stimulate its healing and regrowth.

When they’re injecting the plasma back into my wrist, the doctors may have to use an ultrasound to make sure they are injecting it at exactly the right spot inside my joint capsule.

Benefits of PRP:

Because it is your own cell that they are injecting back into you, the chances of infection or rejection are way lower. The platelet-rich injections provide massively increased growth factors to the affected area to promote healing.

PRP is not a highly researched treatment, however it is far less invasive than most surgical options. It’s often used for chronic knee and elbow injuries.

knee-injection-1

Will it hurt and how long will it take to heal?

I’m not sure yet if the blood withdrawal and re-injection processes will hurt. I’m assuming the PRP shot into my wrist may hurt a fair amount, since it must be injected deep into the site of the injury.

My consulting surgeon said that I’ll likely have to get a couple PRP treatments before I see healing and results. He warned me that my wrist will likely be quite sore for a couple weeks after each shot, as my body adapts.

**Update (Feb 2017): The injection was quite painful but after about a week my wrist was back to its current state. Read my current wrist update here

Conclusion:

If PRP treatment does work, I should be able to avoid having surgery done on my wrist. However, going for this option does mean I could waste a few more months with limited to no results. However, my surgeon was confident that, for my case, this was the best step to take. In the meantime, he fitted me for a wrist brace that is made specially for TFCC pain. So far it is really tight and uncomfortable but it may help me stay active at my job and be able to write at school.

For now, I’m forced to continue waiting to climb. My first PRP injection is scheduled for mid-December, so I’ll have more updates then!

Best healing!


References:

OrthoInfo article: Kelly, Frank, MD. “Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP).” Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)-OrthoInfo – AAOS. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Sept. 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

Process of PRP Therapy. Digital image. Stem Cell Orthopaedic. The Institute of Regenerative & Molecular Orthopaedics, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

Wilson, John, MD. Knee Injection. Digital image. Arthritis-health. Veritashealth, 1 July 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

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11 thoughts on “PRP treatment for my wrist’s TFCC tear

    1. Hi! You can take a look at my full wrist update here:
      https://hermitcrablifeblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/the-long-road-tfcc-wrist-injury-update/

      In brief, the one PRP injection I had did vastly improve my surgeon’s analysis of my wrist- it is no longer painful to the touch. Functionally, however, I still have a fair amount of pain during daily activities. I’m now working with a physiotherapist to develop a rehab plan but she says it’ll likely be a long haul- 3 or 5 years even before I climb again, which is quite a bummer. I’m trying to find some cardio and other hobbies to take up now! I still go to the gym 3 times a week for cardio and strength.

      Cheers and best of luck in your recovery!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your reply!
        I wish you recover completely and get back doing climbing again! (Sooner or later)

        I am seeing only like 10℅ difference with pain but my wrist is still not in a position where I can lift weights at gym again ! That is my target, I don’t know if I will be able to do it ever. Do u recommend surgery?

        I also got ulnar radial subluxation. Do u know anything about that to help ?
        Do u recommend surgery ? And according to your knowledge will it help me get back to gym ? Or will anything ?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you!!

        From what I know, it can take several PRP injections before you notice a better effect. Unfortunately the TFCC and the radial ulna stabilize pretty much every action your hand and arm does, so it’s hard for them to heal. If PRP doesn’t work, perhaps surgery might be the best option for you. I’m not a doctor so I have no further advice to give on that!! Talk to your doctor and make sure they know your goal to get back to lifting, and hopefully that will help them in their decision. Your wrist may not function the same for a while yet, but you may be able to manage the pain for now and get back on the road to full functionality.

        All the best!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow that is intense. I refused steroid injections when I partially tore a ligament in my knee but I still have tweaks now and high balls, massive drop knees or egyptians are not an option! I’m curious to see if it works. Do you know how the original injury happened?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes, those types of injuries sure do stay with you. My wrist was first sprained around this time last year when I felt something in the joint shift strangely during a boulder session. Once I started training harder for nationals, that’s when the pain became unbearable (I probably worsened the tear!) but my therapists still thought it was just a sprain.

      I’m not super psyched for the treatment but I’m glad to be making some progress towards healing.

      Like

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