Scriveners' Palsy, Or Writers' Cramp, a deranged condition of the motor nerves distributed to the muscles of the fingers and thumb holding the pen. It often completely prevents writing, and, although not precisely paralysis, is equivalent to it. There appears to be a want of coordination of the muscular movements engaged in writing, and in this respect it has some connection with locomotor ataxy. The constant employment of the same movements creates an irritation, which is often attended by pain and excites uncontrollable movements in the thumb and index finger, causing motions which make the writing illegible. A persistent attempt to write only increases the irritation and confusion, and the irregular contractions extend from the muscles of the fingers to those of the forearm and even the upper arm. The disease often attacks musicians, sempstresses, milkmaids, shoemakers, and nail smiths, and therefore it has also been known under the names cobblers' spasm and milkers' spasm. It is more frequent among men than among women, and most common between the ages of 30 and 50. It chiefly attacks clerks, teachers, and professional penmen, and not often those who pay little regard to the mechanism of writing. Rest and a good diet, with tonics, particularly iron, forms the most rational general treatment.
Niemeyer found benefit in the use of the galvanic current, which may be passed from above on the muscles of the fore arm, the tendons of which pass to the thumb and index finger. Strychnine has sometimes produced good results, and where the patient labors under malarious influence the use of quinine has been found beneficial.