Two British secondary schools (one a specialist music school) were surveyed to assess the prevalence of upper limb pain among specialist music students compared with students in a regular school setting. Female students tended to report pain more often than male students, but for both significantly higher prevalence was found in the music school. Pain in the regular school was most often attributed to writing, whereas in the music school it was associated with the playing of all instruments, but most particularly with cello, clarinet, and flute. Music students reported long hours of practice, but it appeared that the intensity of practice may be more important as a determinant of pain than the total hours spent practising. The results of the study are in substantial agreement with those previously published from Australia and North America. On the balance of probabilities the pain is due to overuse syndrome, which is very common in musicians and well known in writers.
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