Chronic back pain can be caused by a number of different reasons. Perhaps you have been hunched over a desk for too long, or you aren’t sleeping on a quality mattress. Or, maybe you strained your back while exercising, or trying to lift something heavy.
However, one cause of your back pain you might not have considered could be your wallet.
Do you carry around your wallet in your back pocket? If so, you might be putting your spine out of alignment every time you sit down on it. Sitting on your wallet - whether at work, when you are driving or in any other situation - is a recipe for back pain. If you do it often enough, you could even cause yourself nerve pain, foot cramps and more.
Sitting on a bulky wallet is a common cause of back pain - but it’s a very easy one to avoid. In this blog post, we’ll tell you a bit more about why bulky wallets cause pain, and what can you can about it.
NOTE We are not doctors and the following information does not substitute advice from a qualified medical professional. If you are concerned about your back pain, we recommend you consult your doctor.
Issues Caused By Carrying a Bulky Wallet
There are two main issues that can be caused by keeping a bulky wallet in your back pocket and sitting down on it. These conditions are both quite serious - and are very closely related.
Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle (located in the buttocks) starts to spasm and cause pain. The piriformis is the muscle that rotates your hip and turns your leg and foot outward.
When you have a muscle spasm in the piriformis muscle, this is due to either an irritation in the piriformis muscle itself, or an irritation of a nearby structure such as the sacroiliac joint or the hip. Sitting for extended periods will make this condition worse.
Piriformis syndrome can be caused by sitting on a bulky wallet. In fact, this is such a common cause of the condition that it has the nickname “fat wallet syndrome” or “credit carditis.”
When the piriformis muscle spasms, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve - which will trigger the symptoms of sciatica.
Your sciatic nerve runs from each side of your spine, down the back of each thigh, all the way to your foot.
When you sit with a bulky wallet in your pocket, you throw off the alignment of your spine and compress your sciatic nerve. When the nerve is compressed, this can cause searing pain and/or numbness in your lower back and legs. Sometimes the pain will get worse when you sit, sneeze or cough. Also, your leg might feel weak, numb or tingly.
If you suffer from lower back or leg pain (such as pins and needles) but you find that the pain is relieved by walking around - then this might be your issue. To diagnose you with sciatica, your doctor may ask you to squat down, stand up on your heels and toes or raise your leg without bending your knee. These muscle tests can help the doctor figure out if it is the sciatic nerve that is irritated.
What To Do If Your Wallet Is Causing You Back Pain
What can you do to avoid the pain of piriformis syndrome and sciatica? How do you minimize the pain if you are already suffering from these issues? Here are some important tips to keep in mind.
Ditch the Bulky Wallet
The first thing to do to avoid this is to get that bulky wallet out of your pocket! Carry it somewhere else, or switch to a smaller, slimmer wallet that you can keep in your front pocket.
For example, a metal wallet has just enough space for a few credit cards and a bit of cash - which is all you need. It is sleek, lightweight and small and can fit in your front pocket, saving you from back pain.
A heating pad or an ice pack can also be a helpful option to ease the pain of sciatica. You can apply the heat or ice for around 20 minutes every two hours.
Try ice or heat to see which one provides you with the most relief. Or, some people find it helpful to alternate between the two for optimal relief.
Do Gentle Stretches
Stretches and strengthening exercises can really help to loosen up your muscles and repair your body. Try doing stretches and exercises such as hip abductors (lifting the leg outward), external rotators (rotating the leg outward) and extensors (extending the leg backward).
Remember to take it easy while stretching, don’t push your muscles too far and stop immediately if you feel any pinching or pain. Stretching shouldn’t hurt - so build up your flexibility slowly over time.
Get Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity will help you to strengthen the muscles in your legs, back, buttocks and hips. When you are suffering from sciatica, exercise is usually better for relieving pain than bed rest. Moving your body will help to exchange nutrients and fluids within the discs, so you can keep them healthy and prevent pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Here is a guide tosome great exercises that will offer you sciatica pain relief. You can also try ta chi or yoga, which are exercises known for strengthening your core and stretching your muscles.
However, before you begin your exercise program make sure you see a health professional so you can get a correct diagnosis and rule out any other more serious problems.
Feel free to contact us at any time and let us know!