Abstract: OBJECTIVES: Playing-related pain (PRP) is a common problem among music students. We retrospectively assessed epidemiological factors that contributed to the manifestation of PRP and evaluated the efficacy of treatment methods used by affected music students. The long-term course of PRP symptoms was also examined, along with current (today) levels of trait anxieties.
METHODS: Demographic and epidemiological data of 186 music students who visited the musicians' outpatient clinic over a 5-year period were retrieved. Of these students, 122 had been diagnosed with PRP and were invited to participate (response rate 61.5%) in a follow-up online survey to: a) estimate the long-term course of their PRP symptoms, b) assess the efficacy of treatment methods they used, and c) assess their current trait anxiety (general and performance-related) using two standardized psychodiagnostic questionnaires.
RESULTS: Two-thirds of music students who sought medical care were affected by PRP, with most being affected during their first year of studies, and with 69% having acute rather than chronic pain. The sudden increase in practice time was the main triggering factor for PRP (but not for non-PRP-related problems). Concerning the course of PRP, almost all students recovered or improved significantly. Students reported that "active" treatment methods (e.g., physical activities) were more effective than "passive" methods (e.g., oral medications). Psychodiagnostic questionnaires indicated that about 40% of PRP-affected students currently had increased levels of trait anxieties (music and non-music related), possibly warranting further medical assistance.
CONCLUSIONS: PRP in music students occurs mainly at the beginning of their studies and has a good prognosis, although recovery may be lengthy. It is necessary to provide students with early information about PRP and about the multidimensional treatment framework that allows for individualized care of PRP in affected music students.