Background: Musicians who play string instruments are affected more by musculoskeletal injuries when compared to other instrument playing groups. Musculoskeletal problems are commonly found in the upper extremities and trunk. Several risk factors such as gender, practice hours and instrument played are associated with the prevalence and distribution of musculoskeletal problems among string instrumentalists.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, distribution, severity and risk factors for musculoskeletal problems among string instrumentalists.
Method: A cross-sectional study design using both online and paper-based questionnaires were used to collect data from string instrumentalists playing in both amateur and professional orchestras in South Africa.
Results: A total of 114 string instrumentalists participated in the study, of which 86 (77%) reported problems in one or more anatomic regions while 39 (35%) were currently experiencing musculoskeletal problems that affected their performance. The trunk and both shoulders were the most commonly affected body regions. The majority of the participants reported the severity of the complaints as mild to moderate with aching, soreness, tingling and fatigue being the most commonly used descriptors of the symptoms of playing-related musculoskeletal problems.
Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems that affect performance is high among string instrumentalists in South Africa. An evaluation of associated risk factors with the aim of reducing injuries may be important in improving performance.