Overuse injuries, also known as Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) are a common impediment to a wide range of activities. From work involving physically demanding labor to your average desk job to the aspiring athlete, RSI can lead to decrease in function and quality of life for some individuals. One particularly vulnerable demographic of people that are susceptible to developing RSI are musicians. Whether you are a string player, a percussionist, drummer, keyboardist or horn player; you are at risk if you shed your instrument regularly.
For the musician, there are a wide variety of ailments that can affect your arms, wrists, hands, fingers and even your jaw. Most people who experience RSI will complain of pain during or after playing their instrument. Some people will describe a feeling of fatigue and loss of strength. Others will describe sensations such as “pins and needles” or “numbness”. These types of problems usually arise due to playing your instrument too long without adequate breaks, poor technique or lack of proper stretching. The main culprit of many of these problems is usually either inflammation or scarring in your tendons or nerve entrapment. Depending on the specific problem, there are a number of solutions and treatments to these problems ranging from simply rest and frequent breaks in your practice schedule to physical therapy to surgery for serious problems affecting professional musicians.
We musicians tend to be a stubborn bunch. Prior to enrolling in PA School, I was a musician and I vividly remember shedding my guitar in a practice room for hours on end without a break, attempting to play through any discomfort with the mantra “No pain, no gain.” If you are experiencing pain, numbness or fatigue in your hands while playing or practicing, you should stop, rest and consider consulting one of the hand specialists at OrthoRI. Assessing your function, your needs and your goals and coming up with a solid practice schedule and treatment plan will ensure that you are able to rock out until you’re old and grey!
Guest Blogger: Joseph Greco, PA-S