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Writer’s Cramp

30 / 11 / 20

With November being Novel Writing month we decided to create a blog on writer’s cramp which can be affected by all writers who are constantly writing the next best book. 

What is it

Writer’s cramp is a specific type of focal dystonia that will affect your hand, wrist and forearm. Dystonia of the hands is where the brain sends incorrect messages to the muscles causing excessive muscle contractions, which will lead to your hands twisting into odd postures.

The cramp usually occurs when you are performing a certain activity, mainly highly skilled movements such as writing, typing, sewing or playing a musical instrument. Anyone who takes part in those activities has a higher chance of potentially picking up this cramp.

There are two types of writers camp, the first being a simple writer’s cramp where you are finding it difficult to write and type and this will occur when you begin to have no control over movement in your hand as soon as you start to write. The second type of cramp is the dystonic cramp which will affect  you when you are performing more than one task. Symptoms of this cramp will start showing before you start writing but also when you are doing other activities like shaving.

Man writing


There are a few causes that can lead to writer’s cramps. It can be something as simple as you have a poor writing posture and you are over using your wrist as you’re writing too much. It’s the little things which can potentially lead to writer’s cramp and the symptoms can begin to show a few moments after holding the writing tool or even a few hours afterwards.

According to studies, stress can have a huge impact on hand dystonia. There is no proof it can cause the condition but it can aggravate the symptoms making your writer’s cramp much worse than it already was. This is why it’s important to take your mind off the cramp if you’re suffering from it because worrying and over thinking about the condition isn’t going to help you mentally and it will also increase the pain of the cramp too.

Dystonic writer’s cramp is less common than simple writer’s cramp but there is a chance that there may be a general dystonia that will affect several parts of the body. This implies that it will not be just over writing that will affect you, it will be doing other activities such as using a knife and fork when you are eating food. 

Movements where you will use your hand and wrist in an awkward position will heap more pressure on the cramp. Which will result in more stress onto you which will not do any good for yourself.

Man stressed from writing



The list of symptoms is short if you are suffering from writer’s cramp. Firstly, one symptom of writer’s cramp can be if you are holding a pen or pencil too tightly it can potentially cause the muscles in your fingers to spasm after you have been writing in the same position for a long period of time. Avoid writing for a long period of time is strongly advised as it will not be good for your fingers if you are already struggling to cope with writer’s cramp. 

Furthermore, other symptoms that will show will be when your fingers begin to extend when you are writing which might cause some pain to you. Also, your hand or fingers will start to fail to respond to commands and if this happens it means that the brain cannot send the right signals to help move the hand or finger the right way. 

In simple writer’s cramp, the hand will be able to cope with normal everyday activities, however, if you do begin to start writing it will trigger the painful activity. So it is wise to not attempt to write if you have a simple writer’s cramp, if you do not then it will just cause problems for you in the near future. 

If you have dystonic writer’s cramp then you will struggle with everyday activities which focus mainly on your hands e.g. eating, washing yourself etc. To combat this would be to go and see a hand specialist to see what treatment will be best for you, so you can get back to writing again.

Woman stressing


Unfortunately there is no simple treatment you can acquire for writer’s cramp and there isn’t a cure. However, there are a variety of therapies that are available for you that you can take and if you want to you can combine a couple so you will get the best possible treatment. Below is a few examples of treatments and techniques that you may find will benefit you:

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy: During this therapy session you will learn how to hold your pen differently to how you would usually write. You will be provided with a variety of different pens such as some with a comfortable grip or special-made splints. You will also be taught how you can write with your arm but in a different position than usual – little changes like this will help a lot to combat your writer’s cramp. 
  • Botox Injections: The Botox injections will be injected into the muscles of your fingers which will help massively with your writer’s cramp. We advise you take these injections if the symptoms you are experiencing are when your wrist or fingers move into odd postures. 
  • Relaxation and Distractions: Including relaxation and breathing techniques may seem a simple thing to do but it really goes a long way, as when you close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply in this will keep you calm for a period of time and help keep you distracted from your writer’s cramp.
  • Sensory Re-education: The process of sensory re-education is to encourage the fingers to remember textures and temperatures to encourage the brain to remember the simple patterns. This can be a potentially long process but it is one we definitely advise you to take if you are looking for a different option that is not currently on our list.


Woman writing a book


We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog about writer’s cramp. It was a great topic to write about and if you enjoyed reading it then get in touch and let us know!


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