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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2010 Jul;49(7):1281-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keq067. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Sensorimotor incongruence triggers sensory disturbances in professional violinists: an experimental study.

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Division of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.



Professional violinists are at increased risk of developing disabling symptoms, such as tightness, stiffness, cramps, swelling and numbness in the upper limbs. In the majority of the symptoms, a demonstrable nociceptive aetiology cannot be defined. It has been suggested that a conflict between sensory input and motor intention can generate sensory disturbances. The purpose of this study was (i) to examine whether a sensorimotor conflict triggers sensory changes in professional violinists and (ii) to determine whether a conflict between motor intention and sensory feedback contributes to pathological symptoms in professional violinists.


Twenty students following a professional master education in violin performed a coordination task simulating sensorimotor incongruence. Sensory changes were reported and rated after each stage of the protocol.


Twelve (60%) violinists reported sensory changes at some stage in the test protocol. The maximum number of reports of sensory changes occurred when the subjects moved their arms incongruently viewing the mirror (i.e. the stage of the protocol with the highest level of sensorimotor conflict). During performance of the coordination task viewing the mirror, a significant difference in sensory changes between violinists with and without baseline symptoms was revealed (P = 0.012 and P = 0.025).


Violinists with baseline symptoms may have a reduced threshold for sensorimotor incongruence. A conflict between the efferent motor output and the afferent sensorimotor input may play a role in symptoms without a discernible or local nociceptive aetiology in violinists. Further research is required.

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