The ‘Costanza’ Wallet Syndrome

By Dr. Scott Colasanti

Many of you may remember the Seinfeld episode where George Constanza is toting a super-sized overstuffed wallet and is adamant about keeping it that way in spite of his complaints of back pain.

Well, it seems that at least once or twice per week I see male patients who are carrying their ‘Costanza’ wallets in their back pockets, and I make the recommendation NOT to do this.
Well imagine putting a small pebble in one of your shoes, and then walking all day. By the end of the day this will at the very least irritate you. We are for the most part symmetric creatures and when we introduce something that affects this balance, our bodies don’t like it.
When things become irritated, we may experience pain – which is our warning signal that things aren’t right, or we will find a way to avoid further irritation. In our pebble example this may be a change in the way we walk. This in turn may result in problems in other areas as result of this compensatory behavior, i.e. one problem leads to another.
When it comes to the wallet in the back pocket, we are no longer symmetric when we sit, thus resulting in compensatory changes and perhaps hip pain, back pain or even neck pain.
This is not only a problem that I see in men. In women I often see that they are carrying purses that look more like bowling ball bags. When you sling a heavy purse for an extended period of time over one of your shoulders, this may lead to shoulder, upper back, neck pain etc. 
I am not saying that men and women shouldn’t carry wallets and purses but simple changes in habits like  not over-filling the purse may save from potential headaches (literally) down the road.
Just being aware of this is a good step in the right direction. If we keep giving ourselves mental cues we will eventually change undesirable habits.

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