Tips to Overcome Common Pain Musicians Deal With

Tips to Overcome Common Pain

Whether you have begun lessons on an instrument you’ve always wanted to learn, are practicing more frequently for an upcoming performance, or are simply grooving in your golden years, you could find yourself susceptible to injury.

Physical complaints, especially joint and muscle problems, are common among musicians. In fact, 76% of musicians surveyed by the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians said they have experienced at least one physical problem that affected their playing.

Like professional musicians, hobbyists should become aware of these ailments, as well as their prevention and treatment. Specifically, learn about the sources of different kinds of joint pain and inflammation, which are the body’s signal that something is wrong. Knowing these can guide you in learning playing techniques like better fingerings or posture which can prevent or eliminate the problem. The guide below will help you understand the difference between three common sources of joint pain and inflammation: tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis, along with some basic treatments for them.

Of course, when learning to play an instrument, it’s best to have an expert teach you the ergonomic basics—how to hold a clarinet or a violin bow correctly, for instance—along with warm-up and stretching techniques for your particular instrument. And don’t forget scales and rudiments, as these not only improve your chops but also warm-up the joints of your fingers, wrists, and shoulders.

Even though you stretch, take breaks, and avoid bad playing habits, you still might experience joint pain and inflammation. A George Mason University study found that 73% of musicians experience pain in their shoulder or neck, while 41% experience it in their hand or wrist. Don’t play through pain. The quicker you treat the problem and adjust your technique to accommodate it, the less the likelihood that the problem will persist. While some treatment can be done at home, it is always best to consult with a medical professional, preferably one who has experience treating musicians.

Tips to Overcome Common Pain

Tendonitis: Tendons, or sinews, connect muscle to bone. Like ligaments, which attach bone to bone, they are made up of a tough connective tissue called collagen. Tendons will function smoothly as long as they are used normally. However, if they are overused they can be damaged, leading to inflammation, or tendonitis. Symptoms include pain, especially with movement, stiffness at the tendon, and burning around the entire joint. Sparsely supplied with blood, tendons are slow to heal.

Treatment: It is important to treat tendonitis immediately, so the case doesn’t get more severe. A topical analgesic can help relieve the inflammation by dilating the blood vessels. Ice also will help reduce the pain and inflammation. The pain should diminish within three weeks, although the tendon can take up to six weeks to completely heal. To prevent tendonitis in the future, stretch the muscle attached to the tendon regularly.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve that supplies feeling to the thumb and thumb-side of the hand, called the median nerve, becomes pinched at the wrist. This can be caused by a fracture, soft tissue trauma, arthritis, endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), or repetitive motion. Its symptoms differ from tendonitis in that you most likely will experience burning, numbness, or tingling in your hand in addition to wrist or forearm pain.

Treatment:  If you have mild symptoms, anti-inflammatory drugs, cold packs, and night splints can be used. The affected hand should be rested for at least two weeks to avoid further damage to the tissue. Medical attention should be sought for severe or chronic cases. Stretching exercises can benefit people dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. By stretching the inflamed muscle, you will increase the ability to play your instrument with ease.

Arthritis: Arthritis occurs when the cushioning between joints—a tough, gel-like tissue called cartilage—is compromised. Without cartilage, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, redness, swelling, and stiffness in affected joints. Mild at first, these symptoms can be mistaken for other joint ailments. However, a doctor can test for limited range of motion and fluid build-up, called effusion, that distinguishes arthritis.

Treatment: Most treatments for arthritis soothe the pain and slow the progression of the disease. For temporary relief, you can use a heating pad, ice packs, bandages, and over-the-counter analgesics. In the long run, you should consult a professional rheumatologist to find out what type of arthritis you have and which modern treatment is best.

Instead of being dedicated to one instrument, young musicians, or professionals, is a lifestyle resource for all music makers, regardless of age, instrument, or ability. We focus on providing educational articles teaching people how to play an instrument, but we also favor travel pieces, music related health articles, interesting news stories, and plenty more.

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Finally the e is a new TETHERED guitar pick that was developed to assist physically-challenged players.
Google pick singer for more information.
Thank you

My battle as a beginner guitar player with pain in my left hand ( some said you just need to strengthen your hand, pratice more and build up the muscle blah blah ) i was clueless about everything guitar and i “almost” gave up, but when i took my $340 acustic that had to be a pro axe as it was black with a cutout and the logo on the stock “ONYX” sounding SO MUCH better than WASHBURN or GIBSON let alone FENDER plus what had to be @ $780au a fully pro studo electric guitar with its shiny rectangular pickups a locking nut and a bridge with a bar that moves plus all these screws coming out and saddles that were big,bold and looking at a guitar next to its small curved flat metal saddles just looked cheap to me. The guy at the guitar store asked are these still new? Nah about 8 weeks old but my hand hurts too much so my dream of playing is over. Can i ask if your in a position to spend a bit of money on better guitars? Better, whats a better worth just to have a more expensive pain or are you joking? Show me a tune you know on your PTY electric, ok um i can play U2s where the streets have no name or Welcome to The Jungle. Play both, so i did and the pain was to much. The says lets have a coffee and put one a cold pack and rest for 20mins, so we did. He handed me a USA FENDER STRATOCASTER STANDARD @ $2800au he said try that U2 tital again and then Handed me a USA Gibson les paul standard @ $3480au now play that Gunners song. I nearly gave up my now Pro Guitar player in an awesome band that has me @ a tour from Australia to Europe then the USA to cut a deal as a surrport band for one of the best Heavy Metal Bands to have ever forgotten to ensure the PA for the lead singer/guitarist is on or i know but its sad, but true, metal needs Distortion to sell millions of records. Cheap guitars with horrid action,feel and just nasty frets,neck thinkness thats like holding a log and the more ya struggle to play it the it hurts thus giveup. Even now after 30yrs playing very little pain but 25 mins on cheap gear trying not to buzz but still get the notes to ring with dynamics and all that jazz it is not fun. Sure Clapton could make a cheap axe sound killer but he is Clapton and im just a guitar player.

I was a classical musician from age 17. I stopped playing many years ago due to carpal tunnel surgeries and osteoarthritis. I am 55 now, and have started playing flute, again. This time I am stretching which I seldom did before. I am only practicing 2 hours every 3 days on instrument and thanks to online tutorials, magazines have taken up a new instrument as well.
The thumb and wrist pain has returned after only 2 months of practicing. Some days I can not lift my arm even to pour coffee.
I intend to keep going. Take care to stretch and rest. Those shots for inflammation are horrible.

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