Purses a Real Pain, Doctor Says

Women who carry as little as a cellphone, wallet and some make-up in their purses are putting themselves at risk for aching heads, shoulders, necks and backs—and possibly arthritis, one doctor says.

If you can feel any bag or purse pulling on your shoulder, it’s too heavy and can leave a lasting impression, straining the nerves that exit the neck and run down the shoulders and possibly causing long-term inflammation and painful injuries down the line, said Jane Sadler, a family practice physician at Baylor Medical Center in Texas.

And the current fashion trend toward bulky purses resembling a dachshund are making matters worse, enabling women to carry more and putting them more off balance as they walk and stand, Sadler said.

“We’re really going to see women with more and more problems later on if we continue the big purse craze,” she said. 

When Sadler’s female patients complain of neck pain and headaches, she looks for the patient’s purse and picks it up.

“We take it over to the scale and weigh it, and usually they’re anywhere from 7 to 10 pounds,” she said.

Men and women alike hauling oversized bags or satchels tend to carry them on one lifted shoulder while their neck launches to the side as a counter force. “It’s a very unnatural position,” Sadler said.

The solution is to downsize your bag, she said. Carry only the credit cards and cash that you need, clip your cellphone to your body, and leave the make-up bag at home.