All my life, I’ve held my pencils and pens with my thumb wrapped all the way around and tucked under my index finger, like this:
I’ve also had chronic pain in my hands since age seventeen. Probably not coincidence.
When R started complaining of pain in her hands while writing, I checked her pencil grasp: yup, similar to mine. Quel surprise.
We went to an occupational therapist for help. She explained that R and I both have tendon laxity in our hands and our weird pencil grasp was a way of unconsciously stabilizing the pencil, since our ligaments were too loose to feel stable in the typical tripod grasp that we’re all taught in school. That was a revelation. All my life, even as I was seeing a physio regularly and an OT for splinting, nobody said anything about this. All I knew was that I held a pen wrong, all my parents’ efforts to correct my grip were unsuccessful, and my hands hurt.
Fast forward to today, when I’m wearing these lovely braces on my hands to alleviate some of the carpal tunnel symptoms. I decided to keep them on as I worked on my sudoku puzzle. A few minutes later I looked down and noticed that I was holding the pencil with a standard tripod grasp, like this:
Had I relearned my grasp overnight? I took off the splint and wrote: my thumb was once again wrapped around the pencil and tucked under my index finger. I put the splint back on and, lo and behold, my pencil grasp was perfect again. It was a bit disconcerting.
Now I’m wondering whether I should just wear the splint anytime I need to write, regardless of whether or not my carpal tunnel syndrome is bothering me. Or maybe… should I get a smaller splint for R and see if it changes her pencil grasp too?