Wallet Sciatica and SI Joint Pain

Wallet Sciatica and SI Joint Pain
Erik Dalton, PhD

Every day, our society is coming up with more imaginative ways to be sick, according to a recent article located on the web at hypochondria at telegraph.co.uk.

The article reviews the newly released version of Hypochondriac’s Handbook by John Naish. The interesting part of the review details several odd and potentially bogus diseases including one study concerning low back pain. Amid discussion of Sid Vicious Syndrome, historic histrionics, biblio-piles, and mistress distress, the article discusses a spinal condition known as “wallet warning.”

The article makes it sound like a newly invented condition, but what it refers to has been discussed in the manual therapy world for decades. It is the elusive condition known as “wallet sciatica.” Obsessive spinal trivia nerds and much of the population have been exposed to this theory regarding a potential form of piriformis syndrome and resultant sciatic nerve irritation caused by sitting on a fat wallet.

Elmar Lutz, MD (1) first discussed wallet sciatica in the medical literature in 1978. Reports of this syndrome have surfaced periodically ever since. Is it a real syndrome? No one seems to be sure. Sitting on a four-inch thick wallet might well bother the underlying nerve. But proving the existence of this syndrome to the satisfaction of skeptics has, indeed, been a difficult task. However it probably has a greater claim to legitimacy than another term that has made its way into the medical jargon…the Sid Vicious Syndrome which states: “Attitude is all one needs—ability
is optional.”

Luckily, modern medicine and the health insurance industry excel at the treatment that is most commonly prescribed for wallet sciatica: the decompressive procedure known as “walletectomy”. A full consultation, a clinical examination, and high-tech diagnostic testing procedures should extract enough cash from the sufferer’s wallet to end the nerve irritation and return the patient to full health.

Lutz E. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1978