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Med Probl Perform Art. 2015 Mar;30(1):8-19.

Pain prevalence in instrumental musicians: a systematic review.

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School of Health Sciences, University of Aveiro, Edifício 30, Agras do Crasto, Campus Universitario de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal. Tel +351 234247119, ext 27120, fax +351 234401597.



To investigate current prevalence of pain among different musician groups, sex, and body region.


Studies were sought from PubMed, Web of Science, Academic Search Complete, Science Direct, and Scielo. Databases were searched from 1 January 2000 until December 2012. Two reviewers screened titles and abstracts and assessed full reports for potentially eligible studies. One reviewer extracted information on musicians' characteristics, study methods, and study quality. When possible, a meta-analysis of pain prevalence estimates was performed.


A total of 18 studies were included in this systematic review. Studies assessed pain prevalence in general and the prevalence of pain affecting playing capacity for different time periods: point, 1-week, 1-year, month, and lifetime prevalence. The prevalence of pain in general, across all groups of musicians and periods of interest over which pain was assessed, varied between 29.0 and 90.0%, whereas the prevalence of pain affecting playing capacity varied between 25.8 and 84.4%. There was a tendency for guitar players to have the highest pain prevalence. The most affected body regions were the low back (9.8 to 66.7%) and neck (9.8 to 48.5%).


Pain prevalence is high among musicians, independent of the pain definition and time period used. Health and educational policy makers should become aware of the high prevalence of pain affecting performance practices, so that pain-associated mechanisms are investigated and preventive strategies are tested and implemented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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