As drummers and percussionists we all know, our art can take its toll on our hands and wrists. Repetitive gripping of drum sticks or striking a drum with our hands can lead to a number of injuries to the fingers, joints, tendons and muscles within the hand and wrist. Drummers and hand percussionists can develop pain in the palm of their hands or within their fingers, which can be debilitating.
The human hand and wrist are an amazing work of anatomy, intricate in it’s design and function. Injury to the underlying structures of a musician’s hand or wrist potentially predisposes them to serious handicap and functional impairment.
Anyone with a hand injury, drummer or not, should consider seeking medical attention as quickly as possible. The potential for devastating injuries increases greatly when medical attention is delayed. Even the smallest cut or seemingly innocent hand injury could require advanced treatment to prevent significant loss of function.
The hand and wrist consists of 27 bones. When the other structures of the hand and wrist including the numerous nerves, arteries, veins, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage are considered, the potential for a variety of injuries exists when this intricate structure is subjected to repetitive or direct trauma.
The symptoms of hand and wrist injuries can vary depending on the type of injury, the mechanism of injury, the severity, and location. Common symptoms range from pain, swelling, numbness, stiffness, discoloration of the skin, weakness, deformity, localized warmth or redness, blistering, loss of motion or catching and clicking. Specific hand or wrist injuries will present with one or more of these symptoms. Unfortunately, many hand and wrist injuries are felt to be trivial or minor in nature and are not treated early enough. The majority of conditions involving the hand and wrist can be treated non-surgically. However, when they become chronic or the condition worsens, then some ultimately will require surgical treatment to restore normal function.
Over the next few issues of DRUM I will cover some of the more common overuse and traumatic injuries to the hand and wrist including: nerve compression injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy; tendon injuries including De Quervain’s syndrome, trigger finger, wrist tendonitis; fractures involving the wrist and fingers; and finally ligament and cartilage injuries including finger dislocations and sprains, ganglion cysts, and triangular fibrocartilage complex injuries. The remainder of the articles will touch on maintaining excellent hand and wrist health and prevention of these potentially devastating injuries from occuring.