Carpal Tunnel

At a master class in Boulder, Colorado, flutist Sir James Galway said, “There is no way you can get carpal-tunnel when playing the flute properly, unless you play sixteen hours a day”(41). Carpal-tunnel syndrome occurs when ligaments in the wrist become blocked. This is created through repetitive motion, just like improper use of a computer keyboard(42). A flutist will only develop carpal-tunnel syndrome from playing the flute if there is unnecessary strain or tension to the body. A flutist with small wrists, which is a hereditary attribute, will have a greater chance of developing carpal-tunnel(43).

Dr. William Dawson, a professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Northwestern University Medical School, has treated hundreds of musicians with wrist pains: “In my experience treating instrumentalists…only eighteen of ninety-eight performers diagnosed with carpal-Tunnel syndrome could attribute their symptoms to making music.” Dawson goes on to say that most of the musicians with carpal-tunnel syndrome are pianists who played with their hands too high off the keyboard(44).

Because of the number of musicians with carpal-tunnel not caused by playing music, people who believe they have it, should look at other aspects of their life for contributing factors. Improper use of a computer keyboard or any repetitive motion at a job, such as sorting mail at a post office, can contribute to carpel-tunnel syndrome.

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Users Comments:

Amber Writes:

"I got carpal tunnel from playing flute, most specifically from improperly resting the flute on my right-hand thumb. I used to place my thumb at a 90-degree angle, along the body of the flute. I have seen beginning flutists holding the flute in a like manner."

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This section is part of an article that can be found here: Arm Pain while playing the Flute.