Have you noticed a squishy bump on the back of the neck of yourself or a loved one and wondered what it was? One of the most common postural deformities for women (and sometimes men, too) is seen on the image to the left; the small little hump at the point where the neck meets the upper back. Most women feel like this hump makes them appear heavier and older, and look for ways to conceal it. It is a common feature in women as they age, so it naturally creates a sense of insecurity about one’s age when it appears.
So, what where did this hump come from? Is it from aging? Is it a hormone problem? Can you get rid of it?
The rounding of the upper part of the spine is commonly referred to as a Dowager’s Hump. In medical terms it is called hyperkyphosis. Both terms describe a pronounced rounding of the spine near the head and neck. Not all rounding is bad. The upper back is supposed to have a slight rounded appearance. In the more pronounced cases, there is extra curving is this area of the spine. This extra rounding is often accompanied by a small pad of fat on top of the hump.
A Dowager’s Hump can be caused by postural distortion and muscular imbalances affecting the neck, chest, and upper back.
How Does This Happen?
If the rounding is NOT related to spinal fractures, osteoporosis, or hormonal issues like Cushing’s Syndrome then you are dealing with a problem that is primarily posture related.
Common posture-related causes include:
- Long hours in front of a computer and/or a mobile device.
- Frequently carrying children around.
- Muscular imbalances in the upper body.
- Structural Shifts of the spine, specifically Anterior Head Syndrome.
Can it be Fixed?
Any type of humping related to a deformity in the spine like a fracture, severe scoliosis, or congenital malformation is not changeable. You cannot change the shape of anatomy that has been broken or misshapen.
However, if the humping is related to posture, then there are options for improvement.
– Postural corrective exercises can be performed to address weak musculature.
– Massage therapy can be performed to address a component of muscular imbalances related to upper cross syndrome.
– Fat pad removal which is performed by plastic surgeons to remove the fatty pad on the back of a hump.
The above steps can help reduce the superficial effects of a Dowager’s Hump.
However, it is important to understand that there is a Structural issue stemming from this phenomenon. The reason most people who have this humping are older is because a shifting of the spine can advance the age of your spine through degeneration.
One of the most important conditions to address in people with a Dowager’s Hump is Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS). AHS is when the head shifts forward in front of the chest. This creates slumped or rounded shoulders, collapsed chest posture, which can result in a variety of secondary problems like neck and arm pain, headaches, numbness and tingling.
Over time, if this issue isn’t addressed, the joints of the neck stop moving smoothly and lock the head in that forward position. When the forward shifting of the head is corrected, the rest of the spine will often shift back into a normal position again and reduce the rounding automatically.
Reducing AHS can decrease the appearance of Dowager’s. More importantly, it can help decrease the likelihood you or a loved one suffers from secondary conditions as a result of AHS. If you’re serious about addressing this issue, then don’t let your fix be purely cosmetic in nature.