Hand, Wrist & Elbow Fitness & Injury Prevention for Musicians: Part 2

Why do musicians get carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)?

By Dr. Terry Zachary

Welcome to Blog#2 in our hand muscle fitness & balance series. This week, we talk about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in musicians.

First, let’s get to know where the carpal tunnel is and what it is.

The carpal tunnel is located at the front of the wrist between the pads below the thumb and little finger. Its base and sides are formed by wrist bones and its top is formed by a thick ligament (transverse carpal ligament) just under the skin. The size of the tunnel is about the thickness of your thumb and contains 9 finger flexor tendons and the median nerve.

What is CTS?
CTS can occur when the space within the carpal tunnel decreases and/or the pressure within it increases. When carpal tunnel changes result in pain, numbness and/or weakness (due to median nerve interference), CTS is suspected.

What causes CTS?

There are many theories as to the cause of CTS. Here are the two most common causes of CTS in relation to musicians and preventive measures for each:

Cause #1: Playing harder than your fingers are trained to handle causes the finger tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel to swell (inflame), increasing the pressure inside the carpal tunnel, causing CTS.
Solution: Keep your hand muscles balanced and fit and use proper playing techniques that do not overstress finger tendons.

Cause #2: When fingers are flexed daily (as in musical repetitive gripping) over long periods of time without equal strengthening of the hand opening muscles, CTS can develop. The 9 hand closing muscles become dominant (imbalanced) compared to the 9 hand opening muscles. The carpal tunnel collapses slowly over time, causing CTS. Musicians are highly at risk because of constant finger, thumb and wrist flexing.
Solution: Keep your hand muscles balanced and fit and use proper playing techniques that do not overstress finger tendons.

CTS is indeed a common musical condition. Keep your hand muscles healthy, balanced and strong and utilize proper playing technique. As well, always maintain proper blood flow through proper diet and exercise. Your chance of developing CTS will then be very small.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most commonly diagnosed and treated entrapment neuropathy (which simply means ‘a nerve trapped abnormally’), but it is not the most common musical hand-related injury.

Extensor tendonitis is the most common injury related to musician’s hand muscles. Read next week’s blog and find out what it is and why it happens—and find out why musicians get so many elbow injuries so often.

Next week’s Blog #3 topic:
Why do musicians get extensor tendonitis and elbow injuries?

Blog #4
‘How to strengthen and balance all 18 of your hand muscles—properly! Use Hands Of Steel Handmaster Plus!’

See you next week!

Great playin’,

Dr. Zachary is the creator of Hand Master Plus. The Hand Master Plus is a complete system designed for the health of your hands. Visit the hand Master Plus web site HERE. Then check out the special pricing of The Hand Master Plus bundled with John McCarthys Hands of Steel Workout DVD for Guitarist HERE.

Post: Curt Moye


Anonymous said...

Great explanation using both medical and layman's terms. Everyone should be able to understand exactly what causes CTS.

sarge1875 said...

That what I like about Dr. Zackery, he explains it so everyone understands.