Drummers and Wrist Injuries

Prevention and Treatment

For decades, I have worked with drummers of all levels. Drummers experience various wrist issues, often related to the repetitive and forceful nature of drumming. There are other issues to tackle like back and neck pain, shoulder pain, etc., but this post is about wrists.

Some common wrist problems include:
Tendonitis: This is the inflammation of a tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscle to bone. Drummers can develop tendonitis in the wrist due to the repetitive motion of playing and the force exerted on the tendons.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This condition occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. Drummers who frequently grip drumsticks tightly may be at risk.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis: This condition involves inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. Drummers who use a lot of thumb movement, such as in traditional grip, may be more susceptible.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI): This is a general term for conditions resulting from repetitive motion and overuse of certain muscles. Drummers can develop RSIs from the repetitive nature of drumming, affecting various parts of the wrist and hand.

Ganglion Cysts: These are noncancerous lumps that most commonly develop along the tendons or joints of wrists and hands. They can sometimes be associated with repetitive strain or trauma. Gangli0n cysts are sometimes confused with “Carpal Bossing” and should be differentiated by a medical expert.

Trigger Finger (Stenosing Tenosynovitis): This condition can cause fingers, including the thumb, to lock in a bent position. Drummers who use their fingers extensively may be at risk.

To prevent these issues, drummers can consider the following:
Proper Technique: Ensuring that drummers use proper grip and technique can help reduce strain on the wrists.

Warm-up and Stretching: Incorporating warm-up exercises and stretching before playing can help prepare the muscles and joints. The video below was originally intended for guitarists, but you will see that these stretches are perfect for drummers too!

Taking Breaks: Regular breaks during practice or performances can prevent overuse and reduce the risk of developing wrist issues.

Ergonomic Considerations: Paying attention to drum and drum set setup to ensure proper ergonomics can contribute to a healthier playing experience, even for beginner drummers.

Proactive Care: Working with a musician health specialist who provides you with tools and techniques for prevention will be of great value to your playing longevity and happiness. Therapeutic ultrasound, chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic exercises designed for musicians will all be of great value in the short and long term.

When drummers experience persistent pain or discomfort, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, like Dr. Lou for proper diagnosis and guidance on treatment and prevention strategies. The benefits of chiropractic care and other modalities often provided by doctors of chiropractic will be helpful, non invasive, and are basically risk free. No drugs. No surgery.

Dr. Lou Jacobs has been working with drummers and other musicians for over 21 years. His client list is extensive, as is his familiarity with all factors affecting musician health and performance. He is accepting new patients, and is also available for health coaching online with musicians living outside of New England. For more information or to become a patient, please call (207) 774-6251.