Playing-related musculoskeletal disorders in music students-associated musculoskeletal signs

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2012 Dec;48(4):625-33. Epub 2012 Nov 9.


Background: Pain and overuse are common problems for musicians. Up to 80% of professional musicians suffer from playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMD). The prevalence rate in music students is very high as well. Sufficient data on the underlying musculoskeletal dysfunctions however is scarce. Additionally, the self-assessment of health in musicians seems to differ compared to non-musicians, which might influence their attitudes concerning preventive strategies.

Aim: Evaluation of frequency of PRMD in music students, investigation of signs and symptoms in music students compared to non-music controls, comparison of self-reported health and well-being between the two groups.

Design: Prospective, cross-sectional, case control, non-randomized.

Setting: Other (University volunteers).

Population: Music students in comparison to a non-music control group.

Method: Musculoskeletal examination and questionnaire of 36 volunteers of a music university and 19 volunteer students of an university of education were analyzed. The total number of musculoskeletal dysfunctions and differences between the student groups were examined. The personal pain and health self-rating were compared between music and non-music students.

Results: Eighty one percent of musicians experienced PRMD. Musicians experienced 6.19 pain regions on average compared to 4.31 of non-musicians. Musicians experiencing PRMD reported significantly (P<0.05) more pain locations than musicians without. Music students presented with nearly the double amount (8.39 versus 4.37) of musculoskeletal dysfunctions per person compared to the non-music control group. Nevertheless, musicians significantly (P<0.05) rated their health more positively than the controls.

Conclusion: Musicians presented with more pain regions and a higher amount of musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Further studies evaluating the clinical relevance and their role in the development of PRMD are warranted.

Clinical rehabilitation impact: Screening of musicians for musculoskeletal dysfunction may identify those musicians at increased risk. Early treatment may prevent PRMD in musicians. Additional research is needed to confirm our hypothesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / psychology
  • Music* / psychology
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Physical Examination
  • Posture / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult