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Musculoskeletal Pain and Impact on Performance in Orchestra Musicians and Actors.

K. Engquist, P. Orbaek, K. Jakobsson
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 19 Number 2: Page 55 (June 2004)

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Abstract: We studied the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and its impact on performance in orchestra musicians and in a reference group of actors, who share the mental stress in a performance situation, but without having the physical work load from an instrument. Swedish musicians (n = 103) from symphony and chamber orchestras and actors (n = 106) participated in a cross-sectional questionnaire study. Musculoskeletal pain was assessed by a further developed Standardized Nordic Questionnaire. The impact of pain on performance (pain affecting playing capacity, decreased playing time, and change of technique) and trouble-related sick leave also was assessed. Pain intensity was assessed by visual analogue scales. Musculoskeletal pain in the neck and shoulders was the most frequently reported problem, with similar prevalence among musicians and actors, around 25% for present pain and 20% for chronic pain (1-year prevalence). Around 10% of the musicians and 5% of the actors reported pain in the hands. Oral pain was reported by 12% of the musicians and 18% of the actors. The number of affected body regions and the intensity of pain were similar in the study groups. The musicians had an increased risk for pain affecting playing capacity. For the neck, the prevalence odds ratio (POR) was 3.0 (95% confidence interval 1.2¿7.2; adjusted for age and gender). String instrumentalists had higher risk estimates than nonstring instrumentalists. A gender difference was not observed. Pain in the oral region affecting playing capacity was less common in musicians, with a prevalence odds ratio of 0.4 (95% confidence interval 0.1¿0.8). Even though the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was similar in the two groups of performing artists, the consequences for the work situation were more serious among musicians.

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