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Is Your Purse Causing Your Neck Pain?

By Debra Rodzinak

Almost everyone has had a stiff neck at some point in their lives.  Mine have usually occurred when I sleep in an awkward position in bed or overextend my neck when trying to do some exercise.  If you have ever had a stiff neck, you are all too familiar with the accompanying pain that may be in the head, shoulder or arm, in addition to the neck. Turning the head from side to side may be impossible or painful. These symptoms can last from a few days to a week or more and the pain level can range from mild to severe.

What Causes a Stiff Neck?

While a few instances of a stiff neck are due to serious medical conditions, most have more common and less severe reasons that can be attributed to this ailment.  However, if you have a stiff neck and are running a fever, get to a medical practitioner immediately!  These symptoms could signal meningitis or a serious infection that needs the immediate attention of a medical practitioner.

If it is determined that there is not a serious reason for a stiff neck, other reasons can be identified. For example, common daily activities can lead to muscle strain.  Spending too much time in an awkward position, hunching over a steering wheel or computer desk, holding a phone between the ear and shoulder, or even a woman’s purse can cause the muscles of the neck to become inflamed or strained.

How Can a Purse Cause a Stiff Neck?

I find it funny that when a man has to hold a woman’s purse for a moment, many times he will comment on the weight of the purse.  My husband actually commented to me in the past week, “What are you carrying in this purse, a brick?”  According to experts, purses or bags can put pressure on the muscles, soft tissues, and nerves of the neck and shoulder.  Pain can occur in the upper back, neck or shoulders.

When a woman carries a purse on one shoulder, she places stress on the muscles that connect the neck to the shoulder, especially if she has to shrug one shoulder up to keep the strap from falling off.  This “shoulder hiking” can cause these muscles to become tired and then go into spasms.  Carrying this same bag on the side can cause those same muscles to become overextended from the pull of gravity.

How Can I Find Relief for My Stiff Neck?

If you have developed a stiff neck from carrying a purse that is too heavy, begin by actually weighing your purse.  Experts say that your purse should not be more than 10 percent of your body weight.  Therefore, a woman who weighs 150 pounds should have a purse no heavier than 15 pounds. 

Then, go to The Joint for a gentle spinal adjustment to ensure that your spine is in proper alignment with your body.  With no long insurance forms to fill out or appointment times to remember, The Joint makes it easy to find pain relief from a stiff neck.

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