April 23, 2022

A dowagers hump occurs when there is an increase in the kyphosis of the upper thoracic spine. To put it simply, a bump that some people may have where the neck joins the upper back (sometimes referred to, rather unkindly, as a hunchback).

There is no such thing as bad posture, just variations in posture

Although it may look unattractive and even be uncomfortable, it’s unlikely to be caused by anything terrible. Like many things, it’s often just a sign that the body is run down. This can be because of lack of movement, poor diet and general body deconditioning. It may even be caused by poor mental health and stress.

An increase in kyphosis is often associated with neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches. The best course, if you want to improve your posture, is with treatment through manipulation and soft tissue work with exercising to normalise the movement of the neck, back and shoulder joints and muscles.

The hump usually becomes less visible over time as the patients’ other symptoms start to reduce, and they become more active, fitter and have improved movement and control.

If you are worried we encourage you to get your body checked, but this postural anomaly tends to be benign. In fact, “dowager’s hump” (A ‘dowager’ refers to a dignified older lady) got its name because it is often present in older ladies with osteoporosis, which causes the characteristic hump. However, it could also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. It could also be a sign of scoliosis, fat deposits caused by obesity, prolonged use of steroids, lipoma or Cushing’s syndrome.

To avoid developing a dowager’s hump, we recommend:

Movement and control based exercise a few times a week will help physical and mental health
  1. Move frequently: You really should be getting up and moving at least every hour or so.
  2. Learning some desk exercises that incorporate posture is a great idea. Doing this might help if you cannot leave your desk or seat too much.
  3. Movement-based exercise classes a few times a week will help to build fitness, control and prevent posture related aches and pains. Why not try Yoga, Pilates Tai chi or Capoeira.
  4. Try incorporating weight-bearing exercises into your routine to help maintain good bone density. This is true for men and women regardless of your age.
  5. Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and prolonged use of steroids as these have a detrimental effect on bone density.

Previous blog posts that may be helpful: Time To Move! How Strong Is Your Posture? Everyone is a bit wonky

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At Cathedral Chiropractic we have three chiropractors and we find that no two chiropractors are the same! What we can assure you is that each of us has our patient’s best interest at heart, that we keep up to date with the literature and keep our therapies evidence led and patient centred. We always Keep your experience in mind and work hard to make it the best we can offer.
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