Writer's Cramps: Know Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 17, 2018
Quick Bites

  • Writer's cramp is a neurological movement disorder
  • It involves involuntary actions of one's hand
  • Know symptoms and causes of writer's cramps

If your hands show unusual movements whenever you write, you might be suffering from writer's cramps. Writer's cramp is a neurological movement disorder which involves involuntary actions of one's hand. It can severely affect your ability to write and perform various functions. It is a condition which causes unusual actions that affect your fingers, hands or forearms. The involuntary actions occur when the brain sends incorrect signals to muscles. It makes your hand twist into different unwanted postures. It is a task-specific focal dystonia of the hand because the symptoms are limited to hands only and occur while performing hand specific activities like writing, playing an instrument, typing or sewing. Only high skilled hand movements initiate writer's cramps.

What are its symptoms?

Writer's cramps can happen to anyone. Symptoms usually occur while writing or even during non- writing tasks like holding a knife or playing an instrument. Common symptoms of writer's cramps are the following:

  • Fingers gripping the pen or pencil very hard
  • Wrist flexing
  • Difficulty in holding a pen or pencils
  • Fingers extending while writing
  • Unusual movement of wrist and elbows
  • Hands and fingers failing to respond to commands

Causes of writer's cramps

Repetitive hand movements lead to the remapping of certain parts of the brain, especially the ones involved with hand control or use. It leads to disruption in communication between the brain and the hands. The symptoms can occur while doing a hand specific task, even after a few hand movements. Writer's cramps usually occur due to the repetition of a certain activity or overuse of hands. Poor writing posture also contributes to writer's cramps. It is not necessary that only writing leads to writer’s cramps, even non-writing tasks can contribute to it. 

How to diagnose this condition?

If you experience any symptoms of writer's cramps, you must consult a neurologist as soon as possible.  The neurologist will conduct a physical and neurological examination to check which muscles are involved, what are the activities being affected and whether muscles are affected at rest also. This will also help the doctor examine the severity of the condition.

Also read: Causes and Treatments for Thumb Pain

Treatment for writer's cramps

There is no specific treatment for writer's cramps. Combination of varieties of therapies is used to reduce symptoms. 

Physical therapies

Doctors often advise various steps that one should follow to reduce the symptoms like holding the pen differently, changing arm and elbow position or changing your grip.

Botox injections

Botox injections are given to specific muscles which can help ease writer's cramps and reduce unusual movements.

Relaxation and distraction therapy

Reducing stress can help in keeping symptoms of writer's cramps to the minimum. Techniques like deep breathing and meditation can help patients effectively. Distraction therapy is also used by not letting the patient think about it too much.

Botox injections do give effective results for everyone. Improvement in writing positions, changing the grip and positions of elbow and hand give the best results to treat writer's cramps. Oral medicines are also advised in some cases to ease the symptoms quickly. A perfect combination of physical, mental and drug therapy can help you treat writer's cramps completely.

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