There are many trivial things that have a significant say in our well-being. For instance, the practice (mostly among men) of carrying a wallet in the back pocket. The innocuous habit has postural implications that could lead to a neuromuscular condition called fat wallet syndrome.
A thick wallet is a given these days — carrying as it does articles such as credit and debit cards, visiting cards, shopping cards and, of course, money (including coins). This increases the wallet’s thickness — and keeping it in the back pocket and sitting on it can lead to a tingling sensation and numbness. This is due to the compression of the sciatic nerve.
According to the National Library of Medicine, sitting on a thick wallet compresses and puts uneven pressure on the pelvic muscles, inter-vertebral discs, nerve roots and nerves, leading to fat wallet syndrome.
Causes, symptoms of fat wallet syndrome
“Fat wallet syndrome, also known as wallet neuritis, is a neuromuscular condition in which the pressure mounts on gluteal muscles and nerves, and travels from the lower back to the lower limbs,” says Dr R Raghavendra Reddy, consultant orthopedic at Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru.
Among its symptoms are pain in the lower back and gluteal region, and pain and numbness in the back of the thighs and in the foot. The pressure on piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve is the primary culprit.
“When you are sitting on one side of your wallet, one side of your hip is raised. So, the other end also goes into compression. This compression affects the piriformis muscle, which affects the sacroiliac joint [that links the pelvis and lower spine],” says Pooja Mehta, sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapist, Physio Hub, Mumbai.
“If there is a pointy object inside the wallet, it can lead to repetitive injuries and hematoma [clotted blood that forms in an organ tissue or body space]. Fat wallet syndrome can cause misalignments of the hip joint and the spine, which can cause scoliosis and deformations.”
How to treat or avoid wallet neuritis
Fat wallet syndrome can be easily prevented by keeping the wallet in the front pocket. If you are already suffering from it, experts recommend several ways to mitigate and cure.
The non-invasive means include using anti-inflammatory medications, stretching and strengthening the muscles in the region. Mehta also recommends shockwave therapy to ease stiffness in the region, and conditioning of the glute muscles through stretches and exercises like clamshells and fire hydrant workout.
In severe cases, surgical decompression of muscle and nerve is prescribed.
- Fat wallet syndrome (or wallet neuritis) is a neuromuscular condition in which the pressure mounts on gluteal muscles and nerves, and travels from lower back to lower limbs.
- When you place the wallet in a back pocket, you are practically sitting with one side of the hip raised. This compresses the other side, triggering pain and numbness.
- Non-operative treatments include strengthening exercises.
- Fat wallet syndrome can be prevented by simply avoiding keeping the wallet in the back pocket.