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Is Your Wallet Causing Your Sciatica?

Published September 7, 2017    
What’s in your wallet may be more than just a catchphrase from a series of commercials by a popular credit card company.

“[Your wallet] the go-to spot for stowing your stuff, but sitting on a pile of cards, bills, and coins could put stress on your hip joint and lower back,” says Stuart McGill, Ph.D., professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. With men, carrying a wallet in your back pocket not only twists the spine while sitting, but it also compresses the large nerve that extends through each buttock and down each leg. When your sciatic nerve, which is right behind your hip joint, gets pinched between the wallet and your hip, you can find yourself with an unwanted case of sciatica. Sciatica is an inflammation of those nerves, and it can feel like anything from a mild tingling to debilitating pain in the lower back and through the body.

When men carry wallets in their back pocket, it causes a pelvic tilt to one side which puts more stress on your spine. Instead of sitting upright, you actually round your lower back, says McGill.

If you sit at a desk for work, or drive for a living — or simply drive over short distances to run errands, attend meetings, or visit family and friends — don’t sit on your wallet. Compounded with poor posture that happens with driving, it could spell more pain. Even driving for 30 minutes while sitting on your wallet can cause you back pain or sciatic pain, said chiropractor Dr. Mathew Ullom in a blog post.

“Here’s the physics. When one cheek is riding around higher than the other, that bump on your rump can trigger chronic pain in your back, hips, and shoulders, and set off foot cramps,” said Dr. Michael Roizen, a colleague of Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The simple thing to do: avoid this is and just keep your wallet in your jacket or front pocket. Buy a billfold instead or a mobile phone case that serves as a “wallet” for credit cards and other assorted items. You’ll save your back unnecessary, self-inflicted pain.

Backers, what say you? Will you make the switch to save your back? Comment below and share and fashionable or practical solutions you’ve found to replace the everyday wallet.

Last change: February 22, 2018