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Musicians' Cramp: Instrumental and Gender Differences


Copyright 2024, Mark Alan Wade

Primary Author: Lim, V.
Journal Title: Medical Problems of Performing Artists
Date Published: Mar-03
Language: English
Category: Nervous Disorders
Key Words: musician cramp dystonia instrumental gender
Full Citation: Lim, Vanessa K., and Eckart O. Altenmüller. Musicians' Cramp: Instrumental and Gender Differences. Medical Problems of Performing Artists 18, no. 1 (March 2003): 21.
Full Abstract: A study compared 2661 healthy musicians from eight German conservatories with 183 patients (154 of them male) with musicians' cramp in an outpatient clinic at the Institut für Musikphysiologie und Musiker-Medizin (IMMM) in Hannover from 1994 to 2000. Comparisons between the healthy and impaired subjects were made by gender and instrumental group (keyboard, strings, woodwind, brass, plucked instruments, and percussion). Results were consistent with earlier studies suggesting that particular instrumental groups were at greater risk of developing musicians' cramp. When gender was not a factor, woodwind and plucked-instrument (guitar) players were more likely to develop musicians' cramp, while those playing string and percussion instruments were least affected. Results for keyboard and brass players were not significantly different than expected. When gender was included in the analyses, the number of male patients with cramp was greater than expected, even when the number of healthy male musicians was accounted for; the opposite was found for female patients. When gender was also included in the instrumental analyses, male musicians were more likely to have musicians' cramp than were female players of keyboard, string, woodwind, and plucked instruments. The only instrument group without a gender bias for symptoms was brass. These results suggest that male musicians are more likely to develop musicians' cramp within certain instrumental groups, and may reflect a general predisposition for male musicians to develop the disorder. The ages at onset were not different for male and female subjects in the sample.