Being a musician is a dream job for many people, and so few manage to make it. But make no mistake, there are some very severe occupational hazards for landing this much sought-after career. Read on to find out five of the most common conditions that can happen to musicians of any age, wherever they are in the world.
Repetitive Strain Injury
Just as repetitive strain injury is a serious problem for anybody that uses a computer, so it is for musicians. All that practice of scales and arpeggios that needs doing means you will be performing the same actions over and over again. This could lead to developing an RSI condition. Whether is is carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome or tendonitis, an RSI can cause debilitating problems. It could mean a few weeks off – or even worse. See your doctor as soon as you can if you are a musician worried about a repetitive strain injury. The longer you leave it and keep playing, the worse it could get.
The competitive nature of the music world means that stressful environments are par for the course. There is always somebody waiting to take your place, and the levels of performance required are extremely difficult to achieve. Having high-stress levels can open the door to other psychological conditions and should be taken very seriously. Substance abuse, depression, panic attacks and even heart attacks can occur from stress and are hardly uncommon in the music world.
Professional musicians are in demand a lot, in many different places. Travel is part of the job, and so are late nights. And parties. And access to alcohol and other things. Eventually, this will all catch up with you, especially if you don’t look after yourself, or you aren’t Keith Richards. It isn’t just a case of being tired. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious condition that can cause major disruption to your life. It can lead to sleeping problems, weight loss, extreme exhaustion, and nausea. It can also ruin your career. You simply can’t burn the candle at both ends and perform to the high standards you need to.
Tinnitus is a condition that affects the ears. It can be painful although in most people it just causes a very irritating ringing in the ear. One of the major causes of tinnitus is continual exposure to loud music. It has only entered mainstream knowledge in recent years, thanks to the many rock stars of all ages have come forward to state that they suffer from the condition. To reduce the risk of tinnitus, musicians should always use special earplugs that block the range of frequencies that damages the ear and results in the condition. Tinnitus treatment is available, and it is important that you seek it out sooner rather than later.
Many musicians struggle with back pain, particularly those that specialize in one instrument. As anyone who has learned an instrument as a youngster will attest, you have to contort your body in unnatural ways to play them. And after years of practice, practice, practice, it can leave an effect on the posture. Back problems are especially common in guitarists, who often get into the bad habit of bending over their instrument. It is important to bear this in mind as you progress, as it can have serious consequences in later life.
If you are a musician and feel any of these conditions apply to you, please seek medical advice. It could save your career.