Writer's cramp

Trends Neurosci. 1990 Apr;13(4):148-53. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(90)90007-w.


Writer's cramp has been recognized for over a century, and originally was construed as a physical motor disorder. However, an unfortunate use of the descriptive term 'professional neuroses' to describe this and other similar task-specific conditions, coupled subsequently with fashions in psychiatry, led to the mistaken belief that writer's cramp was due to psychic rather than motor pathology. Evidence has accumulated in recent years showing that writer's cramp is a real focal motor disorder, with a close relation to dystonia. This article summarizes what is known about the aetiology, clinical features, pathophysiology and treatment of writer's cramp and analogous occupational cramps, with the aim of drawing the attention of neuroscientists to this common, bizarre and poorly understood condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Cramp / etiology
  • Muscle Cramp / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*