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Is Your Purse Causing You Chronic Pain?


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There is an endless list of culprits that cause back and neck pain, and millions of people who suffer from these conditions each year can vouch for that. Poor posture at the desk, straining muscles during a workout, or simply tweaking it stepping out of the shower are all well-known causes of dreaded back and neck pain. But what about the items you use everyday that cause pain?

One of the most common and overlooked items that cause back and neck pain in woman is their purse. Excess weight, uneven weight distribution, and prolonged strain from carrying a purse all day can lead to chronic pain and soreness throughout the body. Following are some of the key reasons why your purse could be causing you chronic pain, as well as some simple tips to staying pain free.

Be Careful What You Carry

Have you stopped to look at how much you carry in your purse lately? It seems bags are getting bigger and bigger every day, and with this new trend, an increase in weight is being carried by woman in their purses across the country. Carrying around additional weight puts stress on your muscles and spine, and as woman load more and more into their purses each year, the strain on their bodies is increasing drastically.The problem is that in the long term, if you are using it everyday, you may not realize the severe medical effect that your purse is placing on your body.

Whats worse is this weight is often focused on one side of the body since woman typically carry their purse over one shoulder. This greatly affects your posture causing your body’s supporting muscles to overcompensate to correct for balance. Depending on how much weight you carry in your purse and the manner in which you hold it, your spine will be drastically curved to one side to help carry the load. When your spine is misaligned and placed under heavy amounts of stress, serious medical conditions, including severe chronic pain, will develop over time.

What Chronic Conditions May Develop

Carrying too heavy of a bag can cause more than small aches and strains on your body. Over time, carrying excess wight on one side of your body can lead to a number of chronic conditions as well. These include an increased risk of scoliosis or kyphosisin in woman with weak bones, a greater risk of tension headaches caused by pressure placed on the muscles of the back and neck, osteoporosis, degenerative joint disease in predisposed shoulders, and numbness and tingling in the arm from nerve microtrauma. Although these conditions are very serious, there are simple and effective solutions to preventing them fro developing.

Preventing Purse-Related Pain

There are a number of simple tips you can use to maintain a pain-free back and neck when carrying your purse. The first thing you should do is lighten your load. According to the American Chiropractic Association, you should only carry 5% of your total body weight in your purse on one side, which is only 7 pounds for someone who is 140 lbs. Next, adjust how you carry your purse. Most woman have a favored side or way to carry their purse, but this can lead to pain over time and discrepancies in muscle use. Switch arms often and consider carrying your purse across your body rather than on just one side. Another simple tip to pain-free purse carrying is to use wider straps. Wider straps help distribute the weight of the bag more evenly over your shoulder which greatly reduces pain.

You may not be able to avoid carrying a purse with you throughout your day, but there are a number of simple changes you can make to greatly reduce the chase of chronic pain from developing. The best advice you can take is to listen to your body. When muscles in your back, neck, shoulder, or legs begin to ache, switch your purse to the other side or take a short break to let your muscles recover. Also remember that weight symmetry is key. If you must carry a heavy load, make sure it is spread out evenly across both sides of your body to prevent pain from developing.

About the Author:

Dr. Kevin Christie is a Chiropractic Physician and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in Miami, FL at Health-Fit Chiropractic & Sports Medicine where he treats college athletes, as well as professional athletes from the NFL, MLB, and NHL. Dr. Christie was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to the Board of Athletic Trainers as the Chiropractic Advisor. He is also part of the IRONMAN® Provider Network through A.R.T., which sets up a treatment tent for every IRONMAN event to provide treatment to IRONMAN athletes.