A classical guitarist performing for at least 5 hours each day developed a traumatic synovitis at the left wrist joint that was first erroneously considered to be rheumatoid arthritis. Comparison with members of the same guitar class suggested that unusual joint laxity of the fingers and wrist, probably inherited from the patient's father, was of more importance in the aetiology of the synovitis than a wide range of movement acquired by regular practice. Hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal joint of the left index finger, quantified by the hyperextensometer, was less marked in the guitarists than in 100 normal individuals. This may be attributed to greater muscular control of the fingers. Lateral instability in the loaded joint may be the most important factor in the aetiology of traumatic synovitis.
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