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Is Wearing My Wallet in My Back Pocket Causing Back Pain?

Back painIf you have back pain, it is important to find the underlying cause of the issue. For men, wearing bulky wallets in the back pocket is one common cause of back pain.

As a practicing chiropractor in the Chesapeake region for more than 20 years, I have extensive experience with patients who have back pain for this reason.

In this article, I will explain the link between a bulky wallet and back pain, and how to resolve your pain.

Why Does Carrying a Wallet in the Back Pocket Cause Spinal Pain?

Keeping your wallet in your back pocket can cause spinal alignment problems that cause back pain. When a person sits on a bulky wallet, their pelvis and spine tilts and rotates to the side. Over time, this stress on the spine can lead to problems like piriformis syndrome, a condition also known as “fat wallet syndrome.” This condition can cause painful nerve problems like sciatica.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis Syndrome is a condition where the piriformis muscle presses on the sciatic nerve, often due to pressure from sitting on a wallet. The piriformis muscle lies inside the hip and gluteal area. The muscle begins at the sacrum and runs to the top of the thigh, helping the hips rotate outward. Symptoms of piriformis syndrome include pain, numbness, tingling, and burning. These sensations often radiate out from the buttocks and down the leg.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to an inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower back and pelvis. When a person sits on a bulky wallet for a long period of time, they can put pressure on this nerve, causing sciatica. Symptoms are similar to piriformis syndrome and range from mild tingling or burning to severe pain in the lower back and down the leg.

How Can I Prevent Spine Pain From My Wallet?

You can take steps to stop back pain from wearing your wallet in your back pocket. These include:

  • Switch to a wallet designed for the front pocket: Some wallets are specially designed to be worn in the front pocket. By switching to this type of wallet, you can avoid the mechanical spine problems that come from misaligning your spine with a back-pocket wallet. However, you should not wear a back-pocket wallet in the front pocket as the shape can cause a misalignment between the front of your thigh and your torso, leading to different pain.
  • Take your wallet out of your pocket when you sit: If you want to keep your wallet – just take it out of your back pocket when you are sitting. This is especially true if you will be sitting for a long time, like on a car ride.
  • Remove unnecessary items from your wallet: Take out old, unused credit or debit cards and rarely-used items. Only keep what you routinely use in your wallet to keep it slimmer.
  • Use a money-clip or a slim wallet instead of a bulky wallet: Slimmer alternatives to wallets include money clips and slim-design wallets. These are not as bulky as traditional wallets, leading to less back pain.
  • Use your cell phone: A wallet sleeve that sticks to the back of your cell phone, or a cell phone case that includes pockets for a wallet, can replace a traditional back-pocket wallet. Another option is to replace the credit cards you might carry in your wallet by using touchless payment on your smartphone, like Apple Pay or app-based scannable payments when shopping.

How Can I Relieve Back Pain from My Wallet?

Besides removing your wallet from your back pocket, other remedies from wallet-related back pain include stretching exercises. In particular, certain stretching exercises for the thighs, legs, and buttocks can help relieve sciatica from piriformis syndrome and help return the muscles to their proper alignment. Strengthening exercises for muscles including the hip abductors, external rotators, and extensors can also help.

However, always check with your doctor before doing exercises to make sure they are appropriate for you. Sciatica and piriformis syndrome can have multiple causes, of which a bulky wallet is only one. An accurate diagnosis is important before you try to treat a condition, especially if it is causing you spinal pain.

Managing Back Pain from A Bulky Wallet With Precision Spinal Care

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and spine management physician, I make sure to evaluate the root cause of your pain before coming up with a treatment plan. If your condition is aggravated from having a bulky wallet, I will take this into account when identifying the cause of your pain.

To this end, during your first visit, I will do a thorough examination of your spine. Afterwards, I will go over my evaluation with you in detail. Together, we will set reasonable expectations and milestones for recovery and further evaluation. We will also put together a treatment plan that meets your care needs. I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting your goals.

If we determine that chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you. I may also recommend other specialists that can be used in conjunction with chiropractic care to help you meet your needs.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you are trying to treat your pain. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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