Supination Lift Test

Learn everything you need to know about the Supination Lift Test, including a step-by-step guide on how to perform it. Download a free PDF template now.

By Ericka Pingol on Jun 03, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What is a triangular fibrocartilage complex injury?

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is a group of ligaments and cartilage that helps stabilize the wrist joint. It is located on the wrist's ulnar side, or pinkie finger side, and connects the ulna bone to the carpal bones in the hand.

This group of structures plays a crucial role in wrist stability and function, allowing for smooth movement and load-bearing activities such as gripping and rotating the hand. Moreover, the TFCC also serves as a shock absorber for forces transmitted through the wrist.

A TFCC injury can occur from acute trauma, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand or from repetitive stress on the wrist joint. This injury can cause wrist pain and weakness, making it difficult to perform daily activities. Injuries can also vary in severity, ranging from mild sprains to complete tears of the ligaments.

Symptoms of TFCC injuries

Some common symptoms of a TFCC injury include the following:

  • Wrist pain, especially on the ulnar side
  • Pain when gripping or twisting objects
  • Popping or clicking sound in the wrist joint
  • Swelling and tenderness along the ulnar side of the wrist
  • Weakness in grip strength

Patients with a TFCC injury may also experience pain with certain movements, such as ulnar deviation (bending the wrist towards the pinkie finger) or supination (turning the forearm to face palm up).

Causes of TFCC injuries

As mentioned, a TFCC injury can be caused by acute trauma or repetitive stress. Some activities that may increase the risk of a TFCC tear include:

  • Sports such as tennis, golf, and weightlifting that involve repetitive wrist movements
  • Jobs that require heavy lifting or repeated use of the hands and wrists
  • Falls onto an outstretched hand

Patients with pre-existing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulnar variance (uneven length of the forearm bones), or previous wrist injuries may also be more susceptible to a TFCC injury.

Printable Supination Lift Test

Download this Supination Lift Test to diagnose TFCC injuries.

What is a Supination Lift Test?

The Supination Lift Test is a physical exam maneuver used to diagnose TFCC injuries. It involves having the patient supinate their forearm (turning palm up) while lifting an object, such as a book or weight. If the patient experiences pain or weakness during this movement, it may indicate a tear in the TFCC.

Healthcare professionals use this test with imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-rays, to accurately diagnose a TFCC injury. Other physical tests for a TFCC tear may include exams like the press test, the foveal load test, and the piano key sign.

How to use our Supination Lift Test template

Carepatron's free and printable Supination Lift Test template can help streamline your clinical documentation. This template offers easy instructions on performing the test and sections to record your findings. Follow these steps to get started:

Step 1: Download the template

Access the free template using the link on this page or via the Carepatron app. You can also find it in our resources library, including other orthopedic tests like the Cozen's Test, Tennis Elbow Test, and more.

Step 2: Print or use the digital copy

You can print the template and write directly or use the digital copy on your preferred device. You can also use the Carepatron app to fill in the template and save it for future reference.

Step 3: Perform the test

Follow the instructions on the template to perform the Supination Lift Test properly. Ensure your patient is comfortable and informed about what to expect during the test.

Step 4: Record your findings

Use the sections provided in the template to record your observations, including any pain or discomfort your patient reports. This information will help you accurately diagnose a TFCC tear and track the progress of your patient's recovery.

Step 5: Save and share

Once completed, save the template for future reference and share it with other healthcare professionals involved in your patient's care.

Supination Lift Test example

Our team has created a sample completed Supination Lift Test to show you how to fill in the template and record your findings. This sample is based on a fictitious patient with a TFCC tear, created for educational purposes only. Feel free to view it here or download a copy for reference.

Download our free Supination Lift Test template example here

Supination Lift Test

TFCC injury treatments

After completing the Supination Lift Test and performing other evaluations to diagnose a TFCC tear, healthcare professionals can choose from various treatment options based on the severity of the injury. Some common treatments for TFCC tears include:

  • Rest and immobilization: Patients may be advised to rest the affected wrist and immobilize it with a splint or cast to allow the TFCC to heal.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation in the wrist.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can provide exercises and stretches to strengthen the muscles around the TFCC and improve range of motion.
  • Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, corticosteroids may be injected into the wrist to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Surgery: If conservative treatments do not improve symptoms, surgery may be recommended. This can involve repairing or reconstructing the damaged TFCC.
What are the most common causes of TFCC injuries?
What are the most common causes of TFCC injuries?

Commonly asked questions

What are the most common causes of TFCC injuries?

Trauma, like falling on an outstretched hand or repetitive activities that strain the wrist, can cause triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) injuries. Degenerative changes in the TFCC with age can also lead to these injuries.

How are TFCC injuries diagnosed?

A healthcare professional typically conducts a physical exam and reviews the patient's medical history. Imaging tests may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Can TFCC injuries heal on their own?

Depending on the severity of the injury, some triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) injuries may heal with conservative treatments like rest and physical therapy. However, more severe cases may require surgery for proper healing.

How can you distinguish between a wrist sprain and a TFCC tear?

Wrist sprains and triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tears can have similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. However, TFCC tears may also cause clicking or popping sensations in the wrist.

What is a positive test for dorsal impingement in the context of a TFCC injury?

A positive test for dorsal impingement, particularly when relating to triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) injuries, is a significant diagnostic tool healthcare professionals use. This test involves a doctor performing specific maneuvers that elicit pain or discomfort in the dorsal (back) side of the wrist at the site of the TFCC.

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