Survey Results: Musicians with Dupuytren

Survey Results: Musicians with Dupuytren

Nearly 200 musicians with Dupuytren took the Nov 2017 Dupuytren Research Group Survey on the impact of Dupuytren disease on playing a musical instrument. All those surveyed had Dupuytren disease.

People were asked how bent their fingers were, whether or not they had previous Dupuytren treatment, the impact of Dupuytren on their ability to play, and what type(s) of instruments they play. Every category of musical instruments was reported by survey participants. Here’s the raw data of survey respondents, broken down by the impact on their playing versus their Dupuytren status. The majority of those taking the survey had bent fingers and the majority had issues playing. This may mean that musicians with Dupuytren related problems were more likely to take the survey than those with Dupuytren and no music issues.

The most common instruments reported were those in the piano family and the guitar family. The following chart shows the breakdown of these two groups by the overall impact of Dupuytren on the ability to play an instrument. Overall, three-quarters of those playing guitar reported problems playing or inability to play because of the effects of Dupuytren.Going back to all instruments and zooming in on only people with no contractures, the chart below shows the majority of those affected by Dupuytren without bent fingers reported played normally, including those previously treated for contracture. It also shows that those with treatment “success” (no bent fingers) were less likely to play normally and more likely to be unable to play than those without any prior treatment.The final section of the survey asked people to describe the problems they had playing instruments because of Dupuytren. There were several recurrent themes in these free-form answers. The following chart lists what percentage of survey respondents described each category of problems. 

The most common complaints involved hand span and finger position. If Dupuytren bends fingers forward, why is sideways span such a problem? Two reasons.

The first has to do with the alignment of the joints in the palm. When the thumb or pinky finger bend forward, they also rotate toward each other, cupping the palm and narrowing the span between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the pinky finger.



The second reason is that Dupuytren often affects a line of tissue which runs around the margin of the palm. When this shrinks, it limits the distance fingers can spread apart and the distance between the thumb and the fingers. This can affect span before there is any measurable bend in the fingers.

What was learned from this survey?

  • Dupuytren can affect the ability to play a variety of musical instruments. People reported Dupuytren-related problems playing every musical instrument listed in the survey.
  • Not everyone with finger contractures has difficulty playing an instrument.
  • Not everyone without contracture is able to continue playing an instrument.
  • Overall, people without treatment had fewer problems continuing to play a musical instrument than those who had been treated, whether or not they currently had bent fingers from Dupuytren.
  • Loss of hand span and problems positioning fingers were the most common problems reported. This is due to a range of different patterns of contracture.
  • Pain, slowness, weakness, and loss of dexterity were common complaints affecting a minority of survey participants.
  • Dupuytren affects hands in ways beyond simply having a bent finger.

Want more details? On the next page, read some of the descriptions of Dupuytren-related problems playing a musical instrument.

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