The following list includes a variety of common performance-related injuries including common symptoms, causes and treatment methods. While self-diagnosis of your injury can be tempting, it is strongly recommended to consult your symptoms with a medical doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and recommended treatment methods suitable to your lifestyle and medical background:
Tendinitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon and often developed as a result of an overuse of the muscle. Symptoms can include tenderness in the affected area, lingering pain such as a dull ache, and sometimes mild swelling. Tendinitis is the most commonly developed in larger rotational joints such as the shoulders, elbows and wrists. This injury is extremely common and treatable with rest and physical therapy prescribed by a doctor. To prevent and treat this injury, work with a private teacher or coach to develop healthy and proper technique while playing your instrument and always take short breaks every 20-30 minutes while practicing.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome differs from Tendinitis mainly in the symptoms and partially in the development process. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel near your wrist, and a pressure on the median nerve. Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome typically include tingling sensations or numbness, and weakness in the hand sometimes apparent by a tendency to drop objects you are holding. Individuals are more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a result of genetic makeup, gender, and other medical conditions such as inflammatory or nerve-damaging conditions. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also extremely common and treatable through taking frequent breaks while playing, applying cold packs to reduce swelling, avoiding activities that may further irritate the injury, hand therapy, wrist splinting, and medications specifically prescribed to you by your doctor.
A TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Disorder affects the motion of your jaw and is commonly experienced by wind and brass players. TMJ Disorders cause pain in the jaw and jaw muscles that can also manifest itself in different parts of your face and the area in and around your ear. Another symptom of TMJ Disorder is “lockjaw”, or the inability to open or close your mouth. Specific causes of this disorder result from overuse of the jaw muscle without using the proper technique, long-term tension built up as a result of grinding or clenching teeth, and a history of genetic arthritis. Treatment of TMJ disorder can include physical therapy, mouth guards, specific medications only prescribed to you by your doctor. Resting and taking frequent breaks while practicing is also beneficial in treatment, as well as being mindful of jaw tension throughout the day and working with your private teacher or coach to develop healthy and proper technique while playing your instrument.
Bursitis can directly affect the shoulder or elbow and is a result of inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning for the joints. Common symptoms include achy or stiff sensations in the muscles and tenderness in the muscle when directly contacted. This is commonly experienced by flutists, violinists and violists that spend a majority of their time holding up an instrument in a fixed position to play it, and can be treatable through physical therapy, medication directly prescribed to you by your doctor, resting and applying ice to the affected area, and the use of an assistance device such as a sling or brace.
Vocal Cord Nodules directly affect singers, and are painful growths that form on the vocal cords as a result of improper singing techniques or an overuse of the vocal cords. They are typically developed gradually over time due to straining, yelling, or frequent singing with an improper technique. Symptoms of Vocal Cord Nodules may include a raspy or horse voice or frequent straining or pitch breaks while singing. Treatment includes working directly with a private teacher or vocal coach to develop healthy and proper singing techniques, resting the voice and staying hydrated, managing reflux and allergy symptoms, and vocal therapy prescribed by a doctor.