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Medical Marijuana and Writers' Cramp

What Is Writers' Cramp?

Writer's cramp goes by many names; scrivener's palsy, mogigraphia and hand dystonia are a few others. It is essentially cramping or spasming in the hands, forearms or fingers. While writer's cramp gets its name from individuals who write, as the condition can affect them, it can occur with any repetitive fine motor tasks. It is also so-named because it makes it difficult or impossible to write. Musicians, typists, writers and other professionals and hobbyists who use their hands often to complete tasks that require repetitive movement of the hands and/or fingers can fall victim to it. It slowly inhibits and sometimes destroys the ability to complete these tasks. 

Writer's cramp may at first seem muscular or linked to damage of the hands, forearms and/or fingers from repetitive motion. However, it is actually a neurological disorder that is rooted in the brain. Scientists are still trying to root out the exact malfunction that takes place in writer's cramp and have noted differences in the brains of individuals with the disorder. Obvious physical symptoms include cramps, aching, spasms and uncontrollable extension of the affected areas. The disorder is not present at all times. It appears when an individual with writer's cramp tries to complete a specific tasks or tasks, particularly writing.

Medical marijuana is considered a legally supported condition for use of medical marijuana in several states. As with other neurological disorders, patients with writer's cramp who use marijuana may percieve relief from their condition.. However, the precise mechanisms of the effect are little known. The endocannabinoid system that facilitates most of the known medical uses for marijuana is still somewhat mysterious. Furthermore, exactly where and how the cannabinoids in marijuana react with the endocannabinoid system to relieve certain conditions is largely unknown. Such is the case with writer's cramp. However, there are endocannabinoid receptors throughout the brain, so it is known that medical marijuana can affect neurological processes, thus making this perceived relief medically possible.

Medical Marijuana and Writers' Cramp

Writer's Cramp and Medical Marijuana Research 

Most of the evidence for the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating writer's cramp is anecdotal. Clinical research is sorely lacking. However, there has been some research into other neurological disorders that can be treated with medical marijuana. These include multiple sclerosis, tinnitus and other dystonia disorders, of which writer's cramp is one. Muscle spasticity can be reduced in multiple sclerosis with the use of medical marijuana. The ringing in one's ears can be lessened when tinnitus sufferers are treated with medical marijuana and a number of other neurological symptoms are being perceived by patients or observed by doctors as relieved by medical marijuana. 

One open trial on five patients with dystonia disorders like writer's cramp showed that all five patients showed improvement. Another study conducted on hamsters used a synthetic cannabinoid to treat dystonia. The hamsters also showed marked improvement with use of the drug. These trials show that medical marijuana has the potential to treat dystonia disorders like writer's cramp. Other trials show that medical marijuana can treat dystonia in patients with other diseases causing said dystonia. One example of a condition that can cause dystonia is Wilson's disease. 

According to a study published in 2004 by the Movement Disorder Society, medical marijuana was used to treat a woman who suffered from dystonia caused by Wilson's disease. The woman improved greatly after inhaling medical marijuana. The dystonia itself differed from writer's cramp in that it was generalized. However, it is thought that all dystonia stems from the same area of the brain. Therefore, the same reaction that gave this woman relief from her dystonia symptoms could potentially do the same for sufferers of writer's cramp. 

Another study published by the Movement Disorder Society in 2004 focused on an individual with musician's cramp. Musician's cramp is very similar to writer's cramp. In fact, it is possible that they are identical and they are often grouped together as one disorder. The study showed that tetrahydrocannibinol or THC was useful in treating the patient's musician's cramp. Given the similarities and potentially identical nature of musician's cramp and writer's cramp, it is reasonable to say that the same results being reported by writer's cramp patients are supported by this study.

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