Hand Dystonia/Writer’s Cramp

Quick Facts

  • Writer's cramp is a focal dystonia of the fingers, hand, and/or forearm.
  • Symptoms usually appear when a person is trying to do a task that requires fine motor movements such as writing or playing a musical instrument.
  • The symptoms may be isolated to only those tasks or affect the muscles in a more general way and spread to affect many tasks.
  • Common symptoms include, for example, excessive gripping of a pen or utensil, flexing of the wrist, elevation of the elbow, and occasional extension of a finger or fingers causing the utensil to fall from the hand.
  • Treatments may include occupational therapy and/or botulinum neurotoxin injections, and oral medications.
  • Writer's cramp may be primary or secondary.
  • Very rarely, individuals with DYT1 dystonia (which is primary and usually generalized) will have writer's cramp as the only symptom.

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