In 1838 Robert Schumann wrote, "All the music is complete and alive within me, so that I wish to effortlessly breathe it out, but now I can hardly bring it forth; I trip over one finger with the other. This is truly frightening and has already caused me much pain." Schumann's statement speaks to the frustration of artists who suffer with a condition that hinders their ability to make music and earn a living.
Like athletes, musicians perform for the public; and like professional athletes, they could lose their jobs if they do not perform. Published calculations report that over the course of their careers, as many as 76% of orchestra musicians have suffered, or will suffer, some debilitating condition which will affect their ability to perform on their instruments.
Anyone who performs on a musical instrument has the potential to suffer injury related to that activity. Instrumental musicians are at risk for repetitive motion injuries. Sizable percentages of them develop physical problems related to playing their instruments; and if they are also computer users, their risks are compounded. Instrumental injuries often include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis. Incorrect posture, non-ergonomic technique, excessive force, overuse, stress, and insufficient rest contribute to chronic injuries that can cause great pain, disability, and the end of careers.