What You Need To Know About Bad Posture And Dowager’s Hump

By Dr. Philip Cordova

May 8, 2024


If you’ve noticed a hump on your neck or a increased curve in your upper back, you might be in the early stages of developing a Dowager’s Hump (sometimes referred to by doctors asage related hyperkyphosis“), a condition that can cause significant back pain and mobility issues.

But you don’t have to accept that this is your fate. If you catch it early enough, you can make significant changes to your spine and re-introduce movement. You can avoid the Dowager’s Hump, and you can minimize it depending on how far it’s gotten.

What Is Dowager’s Hump?

Dowager’s Hump is characterized by an outward curvature at the top of the spine, beyond the natural curvature. Difficulty standing straight and persistent back humping are indicative of this condition, signaling the presence of Dowager’s Hump syndrome.

Causes of Dowager’s Hump

Various factors contribute to Dowager’s Hump. While you don’t have to have all of these, the more you have, the more likely you are to develop this painful condition.

Poor Posture

Consistently slouching or leaning forward can lead to the development of a buffalo hump. Particularly if your bad posture includes a forward head, the amount of stress and strain on the neck and upper back will increase significantly.

Making changes to your habits and your posture is your best defense to avoiding a Dowager’s Hump altogether. Be mindful of how your computer is set up, how you use your laptop, and how you use your smartphone. Staying more upright will prevent further damage.

Osteoporosis

Weakened bone density, a common feature of osteoporosis, can cause the spine to bend forward. As the bones of your spine grow weaker, they can start to compress and change shape. Once one has been “squished” and your body starts to bend further forward, a neck hump can appear.

Building bone density starts when you’re young and grows increasingly more challenging to maintain and build as you get older. Weight-bearing exercises, especially weight lifting, can help you build and maintain stronger bones. More invasive medications and infusions may be needed as your age and start to lose density too rapidly for your exercises to keep up.

If you start to experience compression fractures, PEMF therapy can be helpful along with posture support braces and other interventions.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain chronic or congenital conditions may increase the risk of Dowager’s Hump development. Some autoimmune diseases, like Cushing’s Syndrome, can lead to bone loss and development of a humpback. Early diagnosis is crucial for prompt treatment of this condition.

dowager's hump

Symptoms of Dowager’s Hump

Symptoms may vary in intensity, but commonly include:

Excessive Curvature: Visible hump formation at the top of the thoracic spine (upper back).

Back Pain: Intermittent or persistent discomfort in the neck and upper back, affecting daily activities.

Fatigue: Increased strain on back and leg muscles, leading to fatigue, especially by day’s end.

Breathing Difficulties: Severe curvature can impede chest cavity expansion, making breathing challenging.

Effective Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractors can offer comprehensive treatment for Dowager’s Hump, which starts with the chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractors will locate the areas of the spine that are stuck, misaligned, or both and adjust them back into place.

The adjustment will start to get the spine moving again, leading to decreased pain and improved range of motion.

Next, your Doctor of Chiropractic will recommend specific stretches and exercises to reduce the hump’s intensity. This will be a combination of stretches for the front of your body and exercises for the back. The use of a foam roller may also be recommended to maintain spinal motion at home.

In some cases, posture corrective braces are used to minimize the strain on the upper back and reduce the likelihood of further compression fractures in the spine. Since wearing a corrective brace can make the muscles weaker over time, it’s important to keep doing the exercises even if the back pain is reduced and you’re feeling better.

Combining these treatments facilitates effective management of Dowager’s Hump, improving mobility and reducing discomfort over time.

If you’re concerned about developing a hump in your back, schedule a visit at our office today. We’ll evaluate your spine and take any necessary x-rays to determine the extent of any current damage before we give you our recommendations. Everything will be explained before we start any care.

Dr. Philip Cordova

About the author

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and decided to become a chiropractor after hurting his back as a teenager and getting help from chiropractic care. He is speaker on health & posture. Click Here To Read His Full Bio

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