Which Musicians are Most at Risk for Hand Injuries?

Musician Hand InjuryMusicians and athletes have more in common than most people think. For one, musicians, like athletes, are expected to perform for long durations of time. Practicing and performing for countless of hours requires the type of physical endurance that often leads to strain on certain parts of the body, especially the hands.

Many musicians, like athletes, are prone to developing musculoskeletal injuries that can have a negative impact on their careers. When it comes to hand disorders in musicians, injuries may develop at any age. However, more incidents affect people in their 30’s and 40’s. Although hand injuries among dedicated musicians can be debilitating to their careers, to the extent of potentially ending it, there are many treatment options available and with the right plan of care, an end to one’s career may be avoided.

Musicians with a Higher Risk of Hand Injuries

  • String Instrumentalists. Cellists, guitarist, harpists, violinists, viola players and other musicians that perform with string instruments are prone to hand injuries due to muscle strain from overuse or repetitive motions. String players often complain of muscle stiffness, pain, soreness, tension or numbness on the fingers, hand, wrist and shoulders.
  • Wind Instrumentalists. Musicians who play the horn, trumpet, trombone, flute, clarinet, saxophone and other similar instruments may be prone to hand injuries stemming from strained shoulders or arm injuries.
  • Percussionists. Percussion instruments include the timpani, xylophone, cymbals, drums, tambourine, chimes, celesta and piano. Musicians who play these types of instruments are prone to injuries in the hand, wrist, fingers and arm. Some of the most common injuries of percussionists are tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Injuries Overview

Most injuries common in musicians are related to the overuse of delicate joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles. Other injuries may be caused by poor posture and positioning. Although genetic predisposition can also play a role in determining a musician’s risk for developing a hand injury, most debilitating hand conditions are linked to repetitive motion that can strain certain parts of the hand, causing uncomfortable to almost unbearable pain.

Common Hand Injuries in Musicians

Nerve compression due to incorrect positioning is the precursor to the most common hand injuries developed from playing instruments. These are some of the most common nerve related hand injuries:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Characterized by feeling of numbness, tingling and weakness on the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finer.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: tingling and pain on inner elbow, especially when elbow is bent. Compression is at the elbow
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – Symptoms include fatigue and numbness of the hand and/or arm with use, aching of limb and coldness or discoloration of the hand.
  • Flexor Tenosynovitis – Numbness of the median innervated fingers during and shortly after playing instruments.
  • Thumb arthritis – pain to the base of the thumb with pinching and grasping objects.
  • Tendonitis – Inflammation of a tendon leading to severe and debilitating pain, caused by the overuse of a muscle group. Two common types of tendonitis is De Quervain’s Disease (tendonitis at the base of the thumb) and trigger finger (inflammation of tendons in the palm and fingers).

Fitzmaurice Hand Institute in Phoenix, Arizona

Dr. Michael Fitzmaurice of Fitzmaurice Hand Institute understands the many complications that musicians experience from practicing and playing their instruments for hours. He has helped many musicians achieve pain relief in their hands allowing them to return to their passion. If you are a musician who has been experiencing uncomfortable to unbearable pain, please call (480) 526-5106 today to schedule a consultation with an expert hand surgeon in Phoenix, Arizona.

Next, learn more about Trigger Finger.