Q. I have been experiencing strong muscle cramps that curl my fingers into a claw shape, which I can straighten only by using the other hand. How can I prevent this?
A. The symptoms you describe sound like carpal spasm. Spasms, or cramps, are involuntary contractions in the hands or feet. The most common sources of spasms include overused muscles and dehydration. Prolonged writing or typing can lead to hand cramping from overuse of the muscles. Other reasons for cramping are low levels of calcium and magnesium. Numerous things can affect your calcium level, but the usual culprit is vitamin D deficiency.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by nerve compression in the wrist, is another possibility to consider. The most typical symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are pain in the wrist and tingling and numbness in the fingers, but hand spasms may also occur. If you experience spasms in other areas of your body, such as the upper arm, neck, or face, this could indicate a more serious neurologic cause, although this is relatively rare.
Talk to a doctor if the cramps occur frequently. If no obvious cause is discovered, you should focus on drinking enough water and stretching the fingers periodically.
— William Kormos, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men’s Health Watch