Beyond Writer’s Cramp: Any Ideas?

In most regards, it’s been an incredible weekend: I got to see my dear friend Cindy (to whom Truest is dedicated) and meet her adorable baby boy; I’ve gotten lots of rest; I’ve written a lot, chapters I feel really, really good about.

But there’s one area that’s been brutal. I am still battling overuse of my hands, wrists, arms, and elbows. It was perhaps the worst it’s ever been this weekend, and that’s saying a lot. I was sincerely considering going to the ER.wrist InjuryA brief history:

It’s hard to remember when it started, but I’ve had bad wrists for something like a decade now. At one point, I couldn’t open a car door or hold a book with one hand. I can’t do certain things anymore, even just for a short time, like bowling with coworkers or helping a friend paint her house. I can’t carry a lunch tray without both hands. I stare in awe at restaurant servers. I might go a month with little to no pain, only to have one or both wrists completely flare up.

Measures I’ve already taken:

  1. I see a chiropractor and a massage therapist.
  2. I was diagnosed with overuse– not arthritis, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, etc. Just overuse.
  3. I was formerly in occupational therapy with a hand specialist until she broke up with me because I couldn’t afford to go weekly.
  4. I do stretches.
  5. I ice.
  6. I take Ibuprofen/Advil/Aleve.
  7. I use Biofreeze.
  8. I have an entirely ergonomic set-up, both at home and at work.
  9. I don’t write for (what I consider) unreasonable amounts of time, maybe 2-3 hours a night, although I am at a computer for my day job too.

The one measure I can’t take:

  1. Using dictation software to write. Please believe me when I say that I have thoroughly investigated Dragon, read reviews from other authors who have used it, and I also know my own methods well enough to understand that this is not a viable option for me.

That said, does anyone have any other ideas? I’m a little desperate here. After all my efforts, sometimes it just feels like it’s getting worse and worse. I was in so much pain this weekend that I was making noises like a wounded animal. This writer needs some solutions.

12 thoughts on “Beyond Writer’s Cramp: Any Ideas?

  1. Hi there.

    My name is ash and I recently joined your blog due to a blog you wrote about whether or not ERP is sinful.

    Praise God for I am doing so much better now. I found a great therapist in southern California who does ERP. Your article helped a lot so thanks for that.

    Anyways, I have a suggestion for your pain. I have suffered with chronic pain for years and I know how hard it can be. I recently came across an author whose book has been very helpful. He has several on amazon, and I wanted to encourage you to take a look at the reviews. It has helped me a lot

    The authors name is Pete egoscue

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0553380524/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1474852304&sr=8-5&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=pain+free+by+pete+egoscue&dpPl=1&dpID=51FgXOGYmQL&ref=plSrch

    • I read this online today:

      Wrist Braces and Splints are not effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries, but can assist if worn during nighttime only. These devices are meant to keep the wrist from dropping into flexion so that the wrist stays in the straight, neutral position in order to reduce impingement of the carpal tunnel. But instead, wrist braces often increase the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries, especially if worn during the daytime.
      Daytime use of wrist braces while performing daily activities is not recommended because the wrist braces / splints hold your own wrist up for you instead of the extensor muscles having to do it. Since the wrist brace is doing all the work in order to hold the wrist in the straight, neutral position, the extensor muscles atrophy and become even weaker than they already were, and the muscle imbalance between the flexors and extensor becomes even greater. Another major problem is that even though the wrist is still held straight, you can still use your fingers to perform repetitive or static flexion, such as typing, writing, etc., which again, will contribute to the muscle imbalance even more.
      Nighttime use of wrist braces and splints is more appropriate in keeping the wrist in the straight, neutral position. Wearing splints/braces at night for those with severe symptoms can be very crucial as it prevents individuals from making a “fist” or “curling” their wrist into flexion. Sleeping with the hands in this position causes the flexor muscle group to become even tighter and shorter; causing further impingement and more damage to the median nerve with the carpal tunnel.

  2. I feel the wrist pain (broken wrist in 9th grade which never totally healed, horrible carpal tunnel in both pregnancies). What kind of keyboard do you use? Are your wrists in “proper” alignment while typing, at the optimal height? http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ahtutorials/typingposture.html

    Other than troubleshooting those situations, I don’t really have much else to offer but sympathy. I have plenty of carpal tunnel remedies, but this isn’t carpal tunnel. Since dictation is a totally different skill that has to be learned, have you tried diversifying your writing? Maybe writing by hand, tapping with your thumbs on your phone, or hunt and peck, just to give your muscles a break every couple of hours?

    I hope you can find a solution. Not being able to do what you love is not easy or fun.

  3. Pingback: Dear Diary: Salt, Sickness, & NOT YOU AGAIN | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

  4. Hope it’s OK to chime in late. I know you mentioned you have an ergonomic set up already, but for the mouse, have you tried a vertical mouse? For me it’s a lot more comfortable than a “horizontal” one, even those that are supposedly ergonomic. A horizontal mouse doesn’t force you to twist your wrist when operating it, which is a big cause of carpal tunnel syndrome over time.

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