Wardrobe Choices that Contribute to Chronic Pain
Look good or feel good, that is the dilemma that many women face. Just this week, I saw two women in pain because of their wardrobe choices. Many women succumb to the pressure and choose looking good over feeling good. Here are two examples of what not to wear.
E.N. is an 87 year old woman who now has neck pain. Looking at her, the typical upper back hump is prominent. Hidden underneath her clothing and her bra straps are shoulder grooves that could be considered the “Grand Canyon’s” of shoulder grooves. Over the years, her heavy breasts have caused the bra straps to dig permanent indentations into her shoulders. Knowing the damage that is being done to not only the shoulders, but also the alignment of the neck; I tell her that she should consider going without a bra. If she wants her neck to feel better, the weight needs to be eliminated from her shoulders. She scoffed at the thought of not wearing a bra. Her reason was that her breasts would sag and look bad.
Amazingly, some women like E.N. will take those painful bras to the grave if it makes them look good. Even if this was a question of modesty, a camisole is a much better alternative. My only hope to help her neck is to find a suitable substitute for her poor wardrobe choice because she is not willing to stop wearing bras. She will not choose feeling good over looking good.
Another woman, aged 47 years old, came in with a new pain—back pain. Before I examined her, I immediately spotted the problem, the high-heeled shoes. Here is a woman on her feet all day, meeting with clients. She hauls luggage in and out of airports during her various business trips. And yes, she does all of that in high heels. Even though she knows the shoes are bad for her back, she feels that she must wear them to conceal her “big and fat” feet.
She would prefer to look good, rather than feel good. So, her back will continue to be in pain because those high heels constantly disrupt her spine alignment and posture. In order to treat her pain, I must find a suitable substitute for her poor wardrobe choice. At the risk of sounding like a shoe salesperson, I tell her about alternative shoes that a professional like her can wear without causing more back pain. Finally, she realizes that I have given her permission to go shopping.
Over the years I have realized that being a wardrobe consultant is a necessity for me because without changing my patient’s wardrobe habits, they will continue to have sore backs, necks, feet, knees, shoulders, or almost any type of pain you can think of. Honestly, treating pain can start with the wardrobe for many women. Bras, high heels, purses can all be a major culprits to feeling bad. It is time to understand that you can look good and feel good at the same time. If your wardrobe is causing pain, do not blame society, the media, or your mother. The real blame is with you, the woman who buys the shoes, bras, and purses in the first place. Health begins at the point of purchase. Making the right choices will help you feel good and look good.
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.