Common symptoms include excessive gripping of the pen, flexing of muscles, and abnormal movement of the wrist or elbow. The individual would often find it difficult to hold on to the pen and keeps dropping the pen. Mild discomfort may occur in the fingers, wrist, or forearm. It affects people between the ages of 30 and 50 years, both men and women. A similar situation can be observed in musicians playing certain instruments, typists and golfers. While it is not fatal or life threatening in any way, it definitely can be a chronic disorder and how it progresses after that is difficult to tell. As is with other diseases, the sooner it is treated, lesser will be the complications and after effects.
Two basic types of writer's cramp have been described:
Simple Writer’s Cramp: People with simple writer's cramp have difficulty with only one specific task. For example, if writing activates the dystonia, as soon as the individual picks up a pen--or within writing a few words, dystonic postures of the hand begin to impede the speed and accuracy of writing.
Dystonic writer’s cramp: In dystonic writer's cramp, symptoms will be present not only when the person is writing, but also when performing other activities, such as shaving, using eating utensils, applying make-up.
Common symptoms include:
- Excessive gripping of a pen or utensil
- Flexing of the wrist
- Elevation of the elbow
- Occasional extension of a finger or fingers causing the utensil to fall from the hand.
- Sometimes the disorder progresses to include the elevation of shoulders or the retraction of arm while writing.
The symptoms usually begin between the ages of 30 and 50 years old and affect both men and women. Cramping or aching of the hand is not common. Mild discomfort may occur in the fingers, wrist, or forearm.
A similar cramp may be seen in musicians as the violin is bowed, in certain athletes such as golfers, or in typists.