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Drummer’s Diagnosis: Strain Vs. Sprain

A muscle is a specialized component that usually attaches one bone to another. Tightening the muscle ultimately causes the bone to move. Contracting the bicep allows the drummer the ability to elevate the forearm to play the small tom.

Ligaments also connect bones to one another, most often at or around joints, such as the elbow or knee. Ligaments serve to check or control against excessive joint movement and dislocation while maintaining the bones together. Your hi-hat illustrates this perfectly. Think of your hi-hat cymbals as bones and your clutch and tube stand as ligaments. In normal operation the cymbals are maintained at a proper functioning distance. Now loosen the wing nut on your clutch and watch what happens to the cymbal distance.

A strain is an over-stretch of a muscle group (or groups) and can vary in degree from a mild pull with localized tenderness to an actual tear or rupture from the tendon or bone, with severe pain, swelling, spasm, and loss of function. Due to an abundant blood supply, most mild strains heal with conservative measures in up to six or eight weeks. Total tears or ruptures can require surgery.

A sprain is an over-stretch of a ligament (or ligaments). It too can range from a mild pull with swelling and tenderness, to complete separation from the bone causing severe pain, swelling, bruising, spasm, and loss of mobility. The normal lack of an abundant blood supply to the ligaments necessitates an extended healing period, sometimes as much as six months or longer. Some severe injuries even require surgery.

These conditions can adversely affect the ability to drum. To facilitate proper healing, a professional evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment are essential.

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