Have you ever noticed that musicians are more likely to have repetitive stress injuries? Of course you have. But are you sure that the cause is actually overuse?
What about headaches, back aches, neck aches, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia and TMJ pain? Do musicians have more than their share of these as well?
Consider the situation of Jill, a 35 year old cellist who suffered from chronic and recurring wrist pain that for year she attributed to overuse. Here is her story in her own words:
”I have been an active freelancer in a major city for years. Since graduate school days, I have played in many orchestras and chamber groups, driven long distances, taught in various schools, and presented at conferences.Like many of us, I had lived with various aches and pains for years. One fall, preparing for some particularly demanding concerts, my whole upper body seemed to just shut down. I experienced overwhelming fatigue, pain, and various other symptoms. Somehow I kept performing through the 3 month wait for appointments, tests, and results. I was horrified when the specialist told me in all of 5 minutes that I needed 3 surgeries.
I was incensed at his bluntness and his unwillingness to come up with anything more than that. I made up my mind then and there that I would find my own way out of this, and consider surgery the absolute last resort.
For the next several years I went from one medical professional to the next, with discouraging results. I did exactly as I was told, paying large sums of money to see people not covered on my insurance, and yet nothing was improving. Playing caused symptoms – sometimes predictably and other times with no recognizable cause. I was also unable to do many other things I loved to do. I became very discouraged and ready to give up.