Objectives: Instrumentalist musicians are at high risk for developing painful musculoskeletal injuries. Because of this, it is important that the evaluating clinician is not only familiar with the context of musicians' injuries, but also possesses a comprehensive understanding of the relevant anatomy and pathophysiology. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of utilization of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) in the evaluation and treatment of musical-instrument-associated injuries as compared to other medical subspecialties.
Design: The authors created an online survey to collect data about musicians, including the instruments they play, their practice methods, and if they acquired any injuries from playing their musical instruments. The survey was released and available for participation on various social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for a span of 33 days. Over that time, the survey received a total of 115 responses. Respondents who suffered a musical-instrument-associated injury were asked to report the type of injury sustained, the type of physician sought out, and the treatment plan prescribed.
Results: Of the 115 responses, 18 individuals reported sustaining an injury while playing one (or more) of their musical instruments. Out of these, 9 respondents sought care from 7 different medical specialties, with some utilizing 2 or more different specialties. The other 9 did not seek out a physician. In total, there were 17 unique encounters with various specialties, broken up into sports medicine (23%), orthopedic surgery (23%), family medicine (23%), PM&R (12%), pediatrics (6%), urgent care (6%), and OMM (6%).
Conclusions: PM&R is still a fairly underutilized specialty for musical-instrument-associated injuries. Physiatrists' in-depth knowledge of both musculoskeletal and neurological systems uniquely position them to evaluate and treat musicians with musical-instrument-associated injuries. More advocacy and outreach is needed within the PM&R community to help establish the field as a frontline partner for non-emergent musculoskeletal care of musicians.