Musician's focal dystonia

Just left a HN comment on an article about focal dystonia:

I’m a clarinetist and got focal dystonia in my senior year of high school. My right pinky would contract whenever I tried to press a key with it; I had to stop playing. The doctor referred me to somewhere at the University of Washington and they ended up giving me a couple botox injections and also took some videos for the sake of research or something. The botox didn’t seem to do much. I remember they were really cautious about the dosage since they didn’t want me to lose the use of my hand for months.

After 2-3 years without touching the clarinet (I went on an LDS mission after high school), I picked it up again and the focal dystonia had subsided quite a bit. I still didn’t have a ton of dexterity in my right pinky, but I never did, even before the involuntary contractions started. I suspect that my brute-force approach to practicing may have exacerbated the problem and helped to trigger the dystonia.

In any case I was able to play in one of the orchestras at college which is an experience I’m really grateful for. I haven’t had much time to play since college, but I’m hoping to get back into it in a few years when the kids are older. And I’ll definitely be taking more of a slow-and-steady approach to practicing.

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