What Should You Do to Prevent Wrist Pain When Writing?

wrist pain when writing

Writing by hand is increasingly rare these days. A CBS News poll found that only 31% of Americans have hand-written a letter over the past year. 37% say they haven’t hand-written something in the past five years.

But you aren’t one of them. You prefer writing by hand, whether drafting a personal note, journal entry, or creative work. Yet, if you spend long periods putting pen to paper, you may have experienced wrist pain.

Wrist pain when writing can happen for many reasons. For some, hand pain is a product of poor writing habits. For others, it may be an indication of a medical issue.

No matter what’s causing your pain, there are things you can do about it. Read this guide to learn how to treat hand pain from writing at home and preventative strategies to avoid discomfort in the first place.

Why Do I Feel Pain in My Hand After Writing?

You may feel pain in your hand after writing if you frequently write with a pen or pencil for long periods. Other symptoms that may come along with hand or wrist pain may include but are not limited to:

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Sore joints
  • Trouble gripping objects
  • Difficulty making a fist

When infrequent or mild, hand pain is not typically something to worry about. Persistent or worsening pain in the hand or wrist should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Painful sensations in the hand or wrist may arise for many reasons. Here are some of them.

Repetitive Motion

Repetitive motions commonly lead to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur when you use the same body part to perform the same motion repeatedly. The joints and muscles become stressed, resulting in strain injuries.

Persistent hand injuries from writing can cause pain, swelling, and fatigue. The pain may radiate to your wrist or forearm.

Poor Posture

Slouching is not just bad for your spinal health. It can also cause writer’s cramps in some cases. For example, if your posture forces you to bend your arms uncomfortably to write, you may experience hand and wrist pain.

Bending the muscles and joints at awkward angles commonly leads to discomfort, pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Grip Strength

Are you new to writing with a pen or pencil? If so, you may be suffering from low grip strength. This is especially true if your symptoms include finger or wrist cramps and hand fatigue rather than pain and swelling.

The good news is that your hand and wrist muscles will get stronger as you continue writing, and the soreness should dissipate.

Improper Writing Utensils

If you are new to writing by hand, but your grip strength has improved, and you are still experiencing discomfort, your writing tools could be to blame. Writing with pens or pencils that are too small or too heavy can cause hand pain.

Always ensure you use writing utensils that feel comfortable in your hand. If you are left-handed, always use pens and pencils designed for that purpose.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Some joint conditions can cause pain in the hand while writing. A health issue could be the cause of your symptoms if you experience them any time you write, even if you only write infrequently or for a short time.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and tendinitis symptoms get worse with overuse and are common causes of wrist pain when writing.

Writer’s Cramp

Writer’s cramp is a type of focal dystonia, a neurological movement disorder. Also called focal hand dystonia, writer’s cramp can be simple (happens only when writing) or dystonic (happens during many types of hand activities).

This condition is not typically painful. When it is, the pain may be indicative of another of the medical disorders we mentioned above.

What Helps Hand and Wrist Pain from Writing?

Rest, heat and cold, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), splints, and steroid injections are what help hand and wrist pain from writing.

The best approach to wrist pain relief is prevention. We will talk about prevention strategies in a moment. But first, these are the best ways to alleviate hand pain fast.


When your wrist starts to hurt, take a break to rest your joints and muscles. This will give your body’s natural healing mechanisms time to restore function to the injured area.

Rest is especially helpful for hand or wrist pain stemming from overuse, such as writing for extended periods.

Hot and Cold Therapy

If pain, swelling, and stiffness are the predominant symptoms you experience, heat and cold can help. Try taking a hot shower for a stiff wrist. Or apply a flexible gel pad to the painful or swollen area.

Don’t have an ice pack? You can also use bags of frozen veggies or fruits to alleviate the pain in your wrist.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. These drugs reduce inflammation, which can help with pain and swelling. However, NSAIDs are not a long-term solution to chronic hand pain.

Additionally, NSAIDs do not typically help with hand pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome and some other pre-existing medical conditions.


Splints are medical devices used to stabilize the wrist and fingers. They can be helpful for hand pain and inflammation due to arthritis, repetitive movements, and other wrist injuries.

For best results, wear the splint for a few weeks. Do not take it off to write, or else your painful symptoms could get worse.

Steroid Injections

When all of these home remedies fail, there is another option: corticosteroid injections. Corticosteroids are like NSAIDs in that they reduce inflammation and pain. However, they are much stronger than over-the-counter drugs.

You must see a doctor to get a steroid injection. When you do, the pain-relieving effects have the potential to last for up to one year.

How to Prevent Wrist Pain When Writing

Sometimes, the remedies we mentioned above are insufficient for relieving wrist pain from writing in the long term. When that happens, a visit to a hand and wrist doctor is the best strategy.

You can also use the following tactics to reduce the risk of writing-related hand pain from bothering you in the future.

Take Frequent Breaks

As mentioned, rest is one of the best things you can do for pain. Aside from allowing the body time to heal itself, rest can also give the body a chance to dispose of lactate, a common cause of painful or sore muscles.

Rest is also beneficial for your stress levels. Feeling stressed can increase the sensation of pain because it causes bodily inflammation. Without resting and de-stressing, one-time wrist pain could become chronic.

Importantly, there is a balance between a healthy amount and too much rest. Resting a stiff muscle or joint for too long may make the pain worse, so ensure you are moving your hands around periodically during breaks.

Sit With Good Posture

Maintaining proper posture can relieve strain and pressure on muscles and joints. If you tend to sit and write for long periods, ensure you are practicing good posture habits to reduce the risk of hand and wrist pain.

While seated, good posture means sitting up straight with your back flat against the chair back. Ensure your desk and chair are of the correct height to allow your feet to remain flat on the floor and your arms and wrists straight.

Sitting with good posture is not just good for your hands. It can also reduce symptoms of back pain, make you feel more confident, and even keep you energized throughout a long writing session.

Use the Right Writing Utensils

Ergonomic writing tools are a must if you want to draft by hand for prolonged periods. Your pen or pencil should not be too heavy to prevent fatigue. It should also be large enough to keep your hand from cramping up.

Other features to look out for are grips and ink flow. Comfortable grips come in matte or gel-like form for a smooth or sticky feel. Prioritize pens with good ink flow to keep the tip from dragging against the paper.

Finally, ensure the pen or pencil feels right in your hand. If it feels uncomfortable to grip the writing tool, you can almost guarantee that you will experience hand pain when using it.

Drink Plenty of Water

Preventing hand and wrist pain can be as simple as drinking more water each day. Being dehydrated can contribute to muscle fatigue. It can also worsen the painful symptoms of tendonitis.

That’s because the body takes fluid from muscles, joints, and other bodily tissues when dehydrated. If you experience body aches in addition to hand pain, this tip may be particularly helpful.

Men should shoot for at least 15.5 cups or 3.7 liters of water per day. Women require a lower daily water consumption of 11.5 cups or 2.7 liters. Temperature and certain health conditions may change these recommendations.

Do Hand and Wrist Exercises

Hand and wrist exercises are a great way to strengthen the muscles and joints in your upper extremities. As mentioned, ensure you practice these stretches even when resting an injured hand.

Some of the best exercises for your hands, wrists, and fingers include:

  • Upside Down Hand Stretch: Stretch out your arm with your palm up, then pull the thumb and fingers toward the floor until you feel a stretch
  • Fist To Fan Stretch: Squeeze your hand into a fist, then splay your fingers as wide as you can, repeating 10 times
  • Thumb Touches: Touch the thumb of one hand to each finger of the same hand and repeat 10 times before switching to the other hand

These exercises are also helpful for other hand-related activities. Consider trying these stretches for hand or wrist pain from typing, gardening, or working on an assembly line.

Hand and Wrist Writing Pain FAQs

Before you go, we want to answer some of the web’s most-asked questions about hand and wrist pain from writing. Find the answers you’ve been searching for next.

What Is the Correct Hand Position for Writing?

The correct hand position for writing is to rest your wrist and the side of your hand flat on the table. The elbow should be at a 90-degree angle. Shape your hand like a fist, gripping the pen or pencil between the thumb about an inch from the tip.

Can Writing Too Much Damage Your Hand?

Yes, writing too much can damage your hand in the form of overuse injuries. This can happen if you occasionally write for extended periods or if you write for a short time frequently.

Additionally, writing too much can exacerbate the symptoms of pre-existing joint or muscle conditions that affect the hand. This includes carpal tunnel syndrome, writer’s cramp, and more.

Can I Get Carpal Tunnel from Writing?

Unfortunately, yes, you can get carpal tunnel from writing. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by any repetitive motion you perform with your hand.

Signs that you may be dealing with carpal tunnel and not regular wrist cramps from writing include a pins and needles sensation and numbness in the affected hand. The pain may radiate to the arm.

Is Writer’s Cramp Curable?

No, writer’s cramp is not curable. This is due, in part, to the fact that doctors don’t fully understand what causes neurological movement disorders.

The good news is that there are treatments to help with the uncomfortable symptoms of writer’s cramps.

Do Compression Gloves Help With Writing Pain?

Yes, compression gloves do help with writing pain for some people. They may be particularly helpful for people who experience hand and wrist pain due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Compression gloves are not a long-term solution. The pain may return after you remove the gloves.

Complete Hand Care in Houston, TX

Wrist pain is easy to treat at home. But the best approach is to practice prevention, ensuring you take writing breaks, sit with good posture, use the right tools, drink enough water, and exercise your wrists.

If these tips aren’t enough to prevent and treat wrist pain when writing, it’s time to visit a doctor. The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas are here for your comprehensive hand care needs in the greater Houston area.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our trusted hand and finger surgeons who specialize in minimally invasive techniques.

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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