Parklodge Medical Centre
Overuse Injuries in Musicians
|A Classic Overuse Syndrome|
|Development of hand, arm, neck or shoulder pain can present as a crippling disability for professional musicians or those studying music fulltime. At the very least being in pain reduces the joy of playing music. If left unchecked painful discomfort can gradually reduce practice time and even require complete cessation of playing due to severe pain.|
Painful symptoms that musicians experience are somewhat similar to those complained of by excessive /poor keyboard users. Originally called RSI, nowadays known as WRULD (work related upper limb disorder), it is a challenging condition to treat, as no two cases are ever the same. Over the last decade the TherapyXperts Maynooth team has gained considerable xpertise in assessing, treating and curing music related arm pain.
We have successfully treated fulltime music students undertaking music performance degrees at NUIM and Newpark Music Centre's BA in jazz performance,along with professionals from the RTE Concert Orchestra and also musicians playing with local bands.
Using careful observational task analysis we assess the musician's playing posture with instruments as diverse as guitar (classical, base, electric), flute, violin, recorder, piano, tuba and oboe. Clearly locating postural faults, muscle over and underavtivity, endurance capacity are each crucial to clinical success.
The aim is to restore the musician to pain-free status, able to return to practice and playing as speedily and safely as possible.
|What information is specific to Musicians?|
|Before your first session, we need YOU to be as analytical as possible about your own technique and practice schedule. Think in detail about when the symptoms started, how they have changed or worsened. If possible bring your instrument to the clinic and prepare to show us exactly how you stand/sit and play. |
In our assessment process we take a history of the problem and also your general medical history. We ask about:
|Onset of symptoms: gradual onset, or perhaps associated with learning a new playing technique or preparing a new piece|
|Severity: mild, moderate, severe, constant or intermittent, how quickly the symptoms come on and how long they take to clear after stopping playing|
|Location of pain or discomfort: confined to a small area or spreading over perhaps a whole limb and also whether it is pain, pins n' needles, aching discomfort, sharp pain, etc.|
|Aggravating activities: what exact tasks worsen the symptoms, how long it takes for symptoms to come on, whether you can continue in pain or are forced to stop|
|Easing postures: what you have learned to do to ease off the pain |
|The information gained guides us towards specific clinical physical tests involving upper body posture, core strength, relative strength of different muscle groups, restriction within joints from the spine to fingertips and mechanical nerve based issues. We aim to clearly identify the specific issues in each individual presentation. |
Treatment commences immediately. We work in partnership with each musician, solving the issues carefully, with a combination of manual therapy, nerve sensitization techniques, soft tissue stretching, finely tuned appropriate graduated strengthening exercises, and posture altering regimes. this detailed approach aims to specifically clearing pain and accompanying movement dysfunction.
The importance of fitness on preventing or recovering from physical overuse disorders is agreed in the scientific literature. Here at Therapyxperts Maynooth we apply the same principles to overuse dysfunction in musicians.
|When can I get back to music?|
|Overcoming music related pain involves a team approach, with the musician and their instrument at the centre of the process. Often patience is tested as return to practice needs to be mananged slowly and carefully, ensuring that symptoms do not break through again. Instrument technique must be addressed and altered to ensure that once fixed, the proble will ot re-occur. Improving physical fitness is as appropriate for the professional musician as for the professional sportsman. |
The journey to musical wellness is rarely straightfoward. Don't despair, here at TherapyXperts we will walk every step of the way with you.