Musculoskeletal pain in professional orchestra instrumentalists and its determinants: a Polish pilot study

Magdalena Kornek, Antonina Kaczorowska, Agata Mroczek, Ewelina Lepsy, Agnieszka Kaczorowska, Katarzyna Szwamel


Introduction: This study aimed to assess pain in professional musicians playing various instruments, as well as to analyse the relationships between the intensity and frequency of pain and the duration of playing the instrument and somatic variables.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between 60 professional musicians, who were divided into 3 groups: cellists, violinists, and musicians playing wind instruments. Pain intensity was assessed using the visual analogue scale (VAS). The respondents also assessed the frequency of musculoskeletal disorders, the location of pain, the number of hours of playing the instrument per week, and the playing experience in years. In addition, body weight and height were measured and the body mass index (BMI) was calculated.
Results: Musculoskeletal disorders occurred among 83.33% of musicians, including: cellists (n = 20; 100%), violinists (n = 18; 90%), and musicians playing wind instruments (n = 12; 60%). The pain was more often localised in the lumbar and cervical spine, and less frequently in the upper and lower limbs. Cellists and violinists experience the most intense pain (appropriately Me = 4.50, IQR = 4.00 and Me = 5.00, IQR = 3.50) and of greater frequency (appropriately Me = 3.00, IQR = 2.00 and Me = 3.00, IQR = 6.00) in contrast to musicians who play wind instruments (Me = 1.00, IQR = 2.00); p < 0.01.
Conclusions: Musculoskeletal pain is very common among musicians, especially among string players. There is a need for greater awareness and knowledge among musicians of strategies to prevent pain and overload. Playing stringed instruments, including many hours of practice per week and a longer experience in playing the instrument, is conducive to greater intensity and frequency of pain in the musculoskeletal system.


musculoskeletal pain; occupational health; pain measurement; instrumentalists

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Copyright (c) 2022 Agata Mroczek, Antonina Kaczorowska, Magdalena Kornek, Ewelina Lepsy, Agnieszka Kaczorowska, Katarzyna Szwamel

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