Prevalence of Playing-related Musculoskeletal Disorders in String Players: A Systematic Review

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This systematic review aimed to assess the methodological quality of articles about the prevalence of playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) in string players and to identify the rate of prevalence and associated factors of PRMD.


Cross-sectional studies describing data on separate string players published in 5 different languages between January 1, 1980, and January 31, 2014, were included. The following databases were searched: MEDLINE, sciELO, and LILACS. Other sources and reference lists of published papers also were searched. The Loney Scale was used by 2 independent reviewers to evaluate the methodological quality, and only studies that achieved high scores were included.


Of 1910 retrieved articles, 34 cross-sectional studies were selected for methodological assessment. However, only 8 studies reached satisfactory methodological quality scores. The prevalence rate of PRMD was alarmingly high, ranging from 64.1% to 90%. Women and older musicians were more affected in comparison to other instrumentalists. There seems to be a predominance of symptoms in the left upper limb in violinists and violists, whereas cellists and bassists report injuries in the right upper limb.


Professional and amateur string players are subject to development of PRMD. Low response rates were the most observed source of bias, and there is still a lack of publications with high methodological quality in the literature.

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