Wearing tight hip-huggers can get on one's nerves

Low-slung pants cause sensations nobody intended

For the Record

January 19, 2003|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,Sun Staff

There is a new menace out there to women and girls, a thing of peril that can pinch nerves, cause pain and, if ignored, bring about permanent numbness. It's alarming enough that a Canadian doctor has chosen to speak out about its hazards before more women are affected.

This threat to female health? Hip-hugging pants.

Malvinder S. Parmar, medical director of the Timmins and District Hospital in Ontario, recently wrote a letter to the Canadian Medical Associa-tion Journal warning that wearing tight, low-rise pants a la pop starlets Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera can pinch the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, located at the hip.

"I saw three patients in succession, one who thought she had multiple sclerosis because of the symptoms," Parmar said, adding that all three reported feeling numbness, burning or tingling sensations at the thighs.

After examining the patients, who were between 22 and 35, Parmar determined that they suffered from a condition called meralgia paresthetica, which has been caused by backpacks, seatbelts, tight pants and police officers' gun belts. When Parmar discovered that his three mildly obese patients all wore tight hip-huggers, he immediately instructed them to hang up their pants and wear loose clothing until the pain subsided.

"I wrote this letter because I thought it was a good reminder for women because there may be more cases out there, especially now that hip-huggers are back in fashion," Parmar said.

Charlene E. Hafer-Macko, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, confirmed that the condition is a real threat for women who regularly wear very tight pants, and those with certain illnesses like diabetes are more susceptible to it. The condition is not life-threatening and is fairly uncommon, she said. But if left untreated, she said, permanent numbness could set in.

"It goes away on its own," she said. "The best thing to treat it is to remove whatever is compressing the nerve."

And for many women, in the case of hip-huggers, that serves as good fashion advice as well.

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