Hall of Shame: Purses That Cause Pain
Welcome back to the Hall of Shame. By now you have learned that several types of shoes deserve to be in the Hall of Shame because they cause pain. Today’s inductees into the Hall of Shame are purses and handbags that cause pain. Some are big and some are small. Some cause pain for no reason of their own. Take a look at your purse because maybe it is causing you to experience pain.
Somewhere in this world there must be a sign that says: “Woman with the biggest bag wins” Honestly, some of these handbags really qualify as carry-on luggage or tote bags. Why do women need to tote around so much stuff? Sometimes I weigh purses in my clinic because I know the heavy ones cause so much back and neck pain. And I have actually told some women to put their purse on a diet. In these heavy lifters you will find brushes, makeup, notepads, mirrors, energy bars, water bottles, pacifiers, phones, and money (well, maybe just plastic). Have you weighed your purse lately?
And how many of you have heard this line: “Honey, would you mind carrying this in your purse?” For goodness sake, your purse is heavy enough without carrying everyone else’s stuff too! If you read about the history of purses, you will find that men used to carry purses. How did women end up with the heavy load? The answer is fashion.
We know that fashion forces women into painful shoes. Now we know that fashion is also to blame for these darn purses too. Even the small ones with the really skinny straps might be digging you into a painful hole. And I do mean digging. Some women have indentation along their shoulders from straps. Bra straps are another story, but do not underestimate the pain that can be caused by a purse strap too. Pain from purses can include neck pain, shoulder pain, thoracic outlet pain, arm pain and even hand pain. Unfortunately, the wide padded straps are just not fashionable enough for most women to choose them despite the pain.
Even if a purse is well designed to fit comfortably over the shoulder, it could still be causing discomfort because the owner only wears her purse strap over one particular shoulder. We are all creatures of habit. Sometimes that repetition can lead to enough muscle and joint asymmetry to cause pain. Variation can be a good thing. Different purse, different shoulder, no purse, fanny pack, and backpack are all various ways to break up a cycle of pain caused by a purse.
Now back to your purse. Did you empty it out and ask yourself if that is really necessary? Do you have a variety of purses or options? Or do you just subject your body to the same old heavy purse or the same old skinny strap on the same old shoulder? Trust me; the woman with the biggest, most fashionable bag does not win. Women who lighten their load, choose comfort, and change things up once and a while are more likely to live with less pain caused by a purse.
Maybe your purse belongs in the Hall of Shame.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.