Is The Cause of Your Lower Back Pain Your Wallet? Part 1

What are the dangers of wearing your wallet in your back pocket?

e-Holster asked me to answer this question on this guest blog post: Why do chiropractors often suggest men do not wear their wallet, iPhone or cell phone in their back pocket?

First let me state that growing up as a kid I was told I must always wear my wallet in my back pocket. Fatherly advice I never questioned as a youth. Back growing up nylon wallets, with popular rock band logo’s emblazoned across them, were all the rage.

The style of the wallets may have changed since then, but men loading up their wallets with credit cards, receipts, money and coins has not changed.

It wasn’t until years later, while enrolled in Chiropractic School, that I began to question the placement and size of the wallet. Front pocket wallets were never a consideration until I began to look at wallets in relationship to our bodies structural health.

In order to answer the question about front pocket wallets, we need to understand the lower back anatomy better.

First lets take a closer look at the low back area. This will give you a better understanding of the bones, muscles and nerves in the low back area. And how they change when we sit.

Here in this Google Body picture (from Google Labs) we can see the bones shown in tan and ligaments shown in white. Ligaments are strong, yet flexible bands that hold the hard bones together. This picture (below) shows the low back region in relationship with the rest of the body.
Picture caption: clip_image004_0000Rear view of skeleton

Below we see a picture of the bones we sit on when resting in a chair or driving a car. This picture is looking at the pelvis from the left hand side at an angle.


Here we see a series of pictures showclip_image006_0000ing the pelvis and the nerves that go through the low back region. If you suffer with low back pain, keep in mind that nerves carry pain messages, not the muscles or bones. If you feel “pain” it is for a reason, finding the cause of that reason is the job of your doctor. Incidentally, the largest nerve in the body is the Sciatic Nerve.


Now what happens to the pelvis when we place a wallet, iPhone or cell phone in our back pocket? Some would argue absolutely nothing, the wallet just sits there. In the short term that may be the case. But over years of time the back pocket wallet can shift the pelvis and become the cause of back pain.

It is unlikely that a wallet alone will cause problems with your lower back.

Front pocket wallets can prevent years of wear

But, when you sit on a wallet 8-10 hours a day over years, the wallet could cause what is known as a functional imbalance in the low back. This functional imbalance can grow to cause problems elsewhere in the spine and body as the body adjusts to sitting on a wedge. A chronic low back imbalance can cause one leg to appear longer than the other when laying flat. Of course the leg can be longer because you were born with one leg bone longer than the other or as a result of a broken femur bone that did not grow back the same length as prior to the break. But more commonly wallets, cell phone, iPhones and other objects left in the back pocket over long periods of time can cause an enleveling of the low back. Years of sitting in a desk chair (possibly broken or defective), driving in a car and a sedentary home life style can all lead to chronic lower back pain.

People will commonly think the lower back pain is coming from their back. Upon closer inspection it could be coming from the sacro-iliac joint (as shown in the picture). This joint is a ligament and allows for the bones of the pelvis to attach to each other and for movement of the pelvis when walking or sitting.

In conclusion: eHolster Front Pocket Wallets do more than hold your iPhone

Consider your wallet as one of the possible contributing factors to your own lower back pain, especially if you sit for long periods of time at home or at work. Unfortunately, by the time you are experiencing pain in the low back due to many years of wearing a wallet in your back pocket, it is unlikely removing it will correct the alignment problems that have been slowly formed from years of wear and tear.

In practice I have helped many people with various degrees of chronic lower back pain. Some with lower back pain, on and off, for many years. After examining the person and looking for the cause(s) of the pain, not just trying to cover up the symptoms, I will often determine the best course of correction for the person. Often this involves realignment (adjusting) of the low back a course of corrective exercises, some increased physical activity and taking the wallet out of the back pocket when sitting down for any length of time.

Visit eHolster to view their selection of front pocket wallets, wallet cases and shoulder holster wallets, all designed to get your wallet out of your back pocket to keep your spine happy and healthy.

Post written by, and illustrations created by:

Joseph Doughty, D.C.
Upper Cervical Chiropractor
Content 4 Chiropractors