Have you ever noticed a weird looking hump at the back of your neck or of a loved one and marveled what it was? The mysterious hump is one of the most common postural deformities affecting women. This rounding at the point where the neck meets the upper back is called Dowager’s Hump, also known as ‘buffalo hump’ or ‘back hump.’
In medical terms, it is referred to as hyperkyphosis. Historically, it was most commonly observed in older women, but in recent years this type of structural abnormality has become common across all ages and genders – even in children, teens and young adults.
What are the Causes of Dowager’s Hump?
The causes may be grounded on several underlying issues the most common of which include osteoporosis, long-term steroid use, spinal compression fractures, a side effect of medications such as those used in treating obesity; hormonal disorders like Cushing’s syndrome which is a rare condition wherein the body produces too much cortisol. If the development of the hump is not associated with any of these, then you are most likely dealing with a posture-related problem. The common causes of poor posture include the following:
- Spending more than 5 hours a day in front of a computer
- Chronic or extended use of smartphones and other mobile devices
- Muscular imbalances in the upper body that are typically work-related
- Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Marfan’s syndrome
- Structural shifts of the spine such as in the case of Anterior Head Syndrome and Atlas Displacement Complex
How to Get Rid of Dowager’s Hump
The million-dollar question is how to get rid of the hump at the back of my neck. Well, Dowager’s Hump removal treatment is usually commenced by addressing the underlying problem that caused the hump in the first place. If it is a side effect of a medication, talk to your physician about adjusting the dosage or changing the treatment approach. In case the hump is caused by obesity, then a diet and exercise program may help in treating it.
If you have a head forward posture related to misalignment of the cervical vertebrae, then you can benefit a lot from chiropractic care. Upper cervical chiropractic treatment, in particular, works best in realigning the skull with the bones in the upper neck. When these structures are properly aligned, you’ll see drastic changes and improvement in postural problems. Your chiropractor may also recommend postural corrective exercises to strengthen the back muscles. Massage therapy can likewise be performed to treat the muscular dysfunction.
How Will Dowager’s Hump Affect My Health and Appearance If Left Untreated?
Without the proper treatment, a Dowager’s Hump can become a serious concern. By having your head further forward than what is natural for the spinal column, the body has to compensate for the extra weight, and it does so by overworking the muscles that support the head and neck. As your head moves further forward and your chin moves down towards the chest, your body will use other muscles to balance your head. Consequently, the muscles that are normally used are being subjected to too much strain, while the newly used muscles that are not normally utilized to support the head and neck will become sore from continuous use. When left untreated, this can result in spinal degeneration.
Aside from the issues of dealing with pain and discomfort, a Dowager’s Hump causes cosmetic problems as sufferers become anxious or embarrassed about the way they look. They also feel like they appear older and heavier, so they try to conceal the hump by using their hair, clothing or fashion accessories.
Posture certainly has a significant effect on a person’s perception of attractiveness and even the ability to land a job. Those with a Dowager’s Hump are commonly concerned with their overall appearance because their abdomen often appears to be protruding or ‘hanging forward.’
How Do I Confirm If I Have a Dowager’s Hump?
At PhysioCore, our physicians can diagnose a Dowager’s hump by performing a simple physical examination. However, he/she will still need to order certain tests to identify the reason for the hump. To begin to process, you will be asked about your medical history, including other related symptoms that you may be experiencing.
Some of the tests that may be recommended include bone mineral density test, blood count, blood/urine cortisol test, and dexamethasone suppression test. Imaging exams may also be conducted, and these may include arteriography, bronchography, a CT scan of the head, pituitary glands, adrenal glands, and the abdomen; an MRI of the skull; a chest X-ray, and a visual field exam.
If you want to find out if you have a Dowager’s Hump or moving towards developing one, get in touch with us at PhysioCore – a trusted rehab therapy clinic in Thornhill. For those who already have it, find out how you can regain the natural alignment of your spine and get rid of that lump without prescription drugs or surgery. Contact us and book an appointment today!