Sometimes it becomes painful to write or play an instrument due to cramps in the hand or arm.
If the problems do not go away, the first course of action is always to consult a doctor.
If the doctor is not able to explain what is causing the cramps, one possible cause is a hand dystonia (otherwise known as Writer’s or Musician’s Cramp). The symptoms vary and may be one or more of the following:
1. Twisting or curling up of the hands while writing or playing an instrument
2. Fingers move of their own accord to unusual positions while writing or playing an instrument
3. Writing or playing an instrument becomes painful
4. Symptoms usually disappear when the above activities stop
Hand dystonia commonly appears in people between the ages of 30 and 50. It is one form of dystonia – a condition that causes uncontrollable and often painful muscle contractions believed to be as a result of incorrect messages from the brain to the muscles.
Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder and, if the symptoms listed above are severe or damaging to quality of life, the correct course of action is for a GP to make a referral to a neurologist specialising in movement disorders. There are treatments for hand dystonia that can significantly reduce the symptoms in many cases.
Only a specialist neurologist has the knowledge and skill to diagnose and treat dystonia. If the patient and their GP agree that the symptoms might possibly indicate dystonia then the GP should refer the patient to such a specialist.
The Dystonia Society provides the information on this page as general information only. It is not intended to provide instruction and you should not rely on this information to determine diagnosis, prognosis or a course of treatment. It should not be used in place of a professional consultation with a doctor.
The Dystonia Society is not responsible for the consequences of your decisions resulting from the use of this information, including, but not limited to, your choosing to seek or not to seek professional medical care, or from choosing or not choosing specific treatment based on the information. You should not disregard the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider because of any information you receive from us. If you have any health care questions, please consult the relevant medical practitioner.
Last reviewed October 2011