Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Musicians Have Thicker Median Nerve Cross Sectional Area and More Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Than Non-Musicians

Emily Pratt, Henning Vauth, Gary McIlvain, Mark K. Timmons
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 35 Number 3: Page 138 (September 2020)

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Abstract: AIMS: Musicians spend numerous hours perfecting their skills and art, often leading to overuse injuries of the hand; of specific concern to musicians is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). This study evaluated the median nerve cross-sectional area and hand function of musicians and made comparisons to non-musicians. METHODS: Seventy-six participants took part in the study, 38 music students and professors in the musician group and 38 participants in the control group. Participants completed patient-reported questionnaires to assess the level of pain and hand function. Ultrasound images were collected at the carpal tunnel inlet and outlet. The median nerve cross-sectional area and the depth of the carpal tunnel were measured on ultrasound images using software imbedded in the ultrasound unit. RESULTS: Musicians showed higher levels of hand dysfunction and CTS symptoms than the non-musicians. The median nerve cross-sectional area was greater in musicians than in the non-musician group on both the right (mean difference 1.5 mm2, p=0.002) and left sides (mean difference 0.9 mm2, p=0.036). The depth of the carpal tunnel at the carpal tunnel inlet and outlet did not differ between the groups (p>0.05). CONCLUSION: The current research identified between-group differences in median nerve cross-sectional area and the level of hand dysfunction. Understanding the interaction between the anatomy of the wrist and wrist and hand dysfunction will benefit clinicians when evaluating and treating musicians.
https://doi.org/10.21091/mppa.2020.3023

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