09/07/2017 by GOLDI JACQUES-MAYNES
Don’t Sit on Your Wallet!
I've seen the symptoms quite a few times over the years—sitting slightly crooked, leaning to one side, and away from the opposite buttock. Patients may complain of low back pain on one side, and buttock pain with radiating ‘sciatic’ pain down the leg to the back of the thigh. Often the pain is worse with driving and sitting. I often instruct these patients to unload their pockets. Then I see it—an enormous wallet pulled from a back pocket.
A wallet can be the source of pain, and maybe even certain painful conditions.
Sitting on a wallet for prolonged hours every day can cause self-inflicted sciatica.
Sitting on a wallet puts stress on your hip joint and lower back. The problem starts when your sciatic nerve gets pinched between your wallet and your hip. The pain starts from your hip, and can send aches all the way down your leg.
Sitting on a wallet can lead to piriformis syndrome.
In 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle. When this muscle shortens or spasms due to trauma, it can compress or strangle the sciatic nerve beneath the muscle.
Sitting on a wallet can cause neck and upper back pain, too.
Stuffing a wallet in your back pocket tilts your pelvis to one side, which puts more stress on your spine. When one cheek is higher than the other, you end up with biomechanical stress causing twisting of the pelvis. The spine becomes misaligned. Instead of sitting upright, you actually round your lower back and slouch. Then your shoulders slump, leading to neck and upper back pain. The bigger your wallet, the more lopsided you’re forced to sit—and the achier you’ll end up.
The solution is quite simple—don’t sit on your wallet!
Empty your pockets. Sit balanced on both of your sit bones—you know, the boney part of your butt at the bottom crease of your butt cheek. Use a smaller/slimmer wallet that can only carry the essentials. Empty your wallet of receipts, business cards, etc. Use a money clip to beat the bulk. Any method that gets that bulk out of your pockets will save your spine.
And of course, if you’re feeling any back pain, come in for an exam and individualized treatment plan.