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).
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.