When I begin to explain to a new patient the cause of the pain that they have been experiencing, the first question I often hear is, “How did this happen?” In most cases, there is not a single cause that led to the problem, it is usually a combination of a number of things that have accumulated over time. I commonly see that someone’s pain can be caused by seemingly small things that people do on a repetitive basis.
One of the more common issues that I see lead to lower back issues is when male patients carry their wallet in their back pocket, especially those that sit for long periods of the day while at work. Carrying your wallet in a back pocket keeps you from sitting properly. The extra couple of inches, or more depending on how much you carry in your wallet, makes you to sit unevenly. This causes your pelvis to tilt to one side.
Pelvic unleveling is one of the most common causes of lower back pain that I see in practice.
My advice to these patients is to take their wallet out of their back pocket and place it in one of their front pockets. This will allow you to sit evenly, and help keep pelvic unleveling from occurring in the future, helping decrease the risk of lower back pain.
While a wallet can lead to lower back pain in men, I often see that the type of purse and how it’s carried can lead to neck and upper back pain in women. If a purse is always carried on one shoulder, over time this can cause that shoulder to drop, which can affect posture and lead to neck and upper back pain. I recommend that the purse is alternated from shoulder to shoulder on a regular basis. This will keep the shoulders level and help maintain proper posture.
Carrying a heavy purse can have the same effect. I encourage patients to only carry what is absolutely necessary in their purses. By limiting the weight of their purse and alternating the shoulder it is carried on, their risk of neck and upper back pain is reduced.
Similarly, if you carry your laptop to and from work, I recommend that you use a case that has straps for both shoulders. Carrying it on one side or the other can have the same effect as carrying a heavy purse.
Remember, in most cases, it doesn’t take a major trauma to lead to pain.
By paying attention to small details, you can help reduce the risk of future issues. Keep you wallet in a front pocket, alternate carrying your purse on each shoulder and try to limit how much you carry, your spine will thank you!