Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back pain? Need a ‘walletectomy’?

The average guy’s wallet is thicker than the armor on one of the military’s new bomb-proof fighting vehicles. Cash (though not usually very much, and less these days), photos, credit cards, driver’s license, receipts, business cards, ID cards of various kinds, stamps, tiny keepsakes and mementos – we guys make fun of a woman’s purse, but it’s amazing the amount of stuff pressed like a paper lasagna into our wallets.

All that stuff could be giving you a big pain in the butt, according to many doctors. A recent University of California at Berkeley Wellness newsletter warned men that their billfolds can cause “wallet sciatica” or “creditcarditis.”

The back pockets on your pants are perfectly positioned so that your overstuffed wallet can press right on the sciatic nerve. The pressure can inflame the nerve, causing a pain in the tuchus that radiates down your leg on the side where you carry the wallet. If you unconsciously raise your hip to ease the irritation, that can screw up your spinal alignment.

The simplest solutions are either to put your wallet in another pocket, put it in a secure compartment or have a walletectomy – take some of the stuff out. I usually take my wallet out while I’m driving, and any time when I’m going to be sitting for a while – such as when I write.

The problem can affect not only truck drivers but also desk drivers. The newsletter says there are some kindred disorders – heartburn and abdominal distress from “tight pants syndrome.” Not too many drivers seem to wear tight Wranglers on a daily basis, but the ones I have seen seem to pack hefty wallets as well. If you’re one of those, give your booty a rest. Your back will thank you for it.

1 comment:

  1. I have no doubt a fat wallet causes back pain. And I also dont doubt there are plenty of drivers out there with the old chain-drive pocket-briefcases. But, something all of these studies have never figured out is, most drivers already realize sitting on a wallet causes discomfort. That's why every one of the guy-drivers I know keeps his wallet somewhere other than his back pocket when he drives: its on the dash or in an overhead compartment!

    For years the major carriers have tried to blame driver back pain on fat-wallet syndrome. This is pure smokescreen: European studies have repeatedly shown that back damage is caused by continuous whole-body vibration as happens while driving a truck. Damage usually occurs at the L-3, L-4, L-5, S-1 areas of the spine and has as much to do with continuous exposure as occasional rough roads. And US and Canadian drivers drive for far more hours without breaks than do drivers in European countries, where the recommended maximum exposure rate is 9.5 hours in a five day week. Ask any chiropractor or back specialist what percentage of working-age patients he has are truck drivers or heavy equipment operators. And it happens to most of us sooner or later. I've never had a wallet in my back pocket-I'm female. And I have the same exact problem as the males.

    I sure wish somebody would do some valid studies on this-it could save millions in health care costs, not to mention pain and suffering!

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