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Blame your brain for writer's cramp

April 13, 2009 |  5:40 pm

Pencil The pain can occur in the hand of a writer trying to keep up with pearls of wisdom falling from the lips of a particularly talkative professor or in the hand of a musician desperately trying to fine-tune a difficult piece. But it seems to begin in the brain.

In a new study published in Archives of Neurology, researchers in France used a type of MRI to study 26 right-handed people prone to writer's cramp (a type of dystonia) and 26 people not plagued by the problem. 

Earlier research had found differences in the gray matter of people prone to writer's cramp, when compared with those without the condition.  Specifically, they had less tissue in the cerebellum, the thalamusand the sensorimotor cortex -- parts of the brain affecting senses and movement.

The new research shows that the white matter (made up of message-carrying nerve cells) connecting these regions is affected as well.

Not a stunning discovery perhaps, but every bit of knowledge takes us somewhere. 

Botox, it turns out, may be able to help while we get there.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times