Your wallet is one of your most taken-for-granted accessories and it has always lived in your back pocket. When it comes to it, size matters. Carrying a big, fat wad of cash in your pocket can mean major trouble for your back.

So what happens exactly?

So what happens when you sit on your wallet? The bulge makes it so one side of your body is raised, so your pelvis hikes to that side, and your lumbar spine, or low back, will side-bend with it. Your thoracic spine, or mid-back, will curve left to counterbalance it because your eyes want to stay horizontal.

This side-bending in the low back, although minimal, will lead to all the muscles on your right side to become shortened, making them actively insufficient. Basically, this small shift decreases your muscle’s ability to fire and increases stress at your right sacroiliac joint. And it doesn’t stop there.  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 in which the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, spasms and causes buttock pain. The piriformis muscle can also irritate the nearby sciatic nerve and cause pain, numbness, burning and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot (similar to sciatic pain).

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a term used to describe nerve pain in the leg that is caused by inflammation and/or compression 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.

What can you do to help prevent “fat wallet syndrome”?.

  • Take it 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: 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 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.

If you think you are suffering from this kind of injury or would like some further information, or to speak to a member of our team,  please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: hitchin@healesclinics.com or luton@healesclinics.com