Dowager’s Hump

What is a Dowager’s Hump?

The medical term for Dowager Hump is thoracic hyper-kyphosis.  This relates to excessive rounding of the spine of the upper back which slowly develops over a period of time.  The Dowager’s Hump can lead to upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches.  This also makes us appear much shorter in height as we get older…and who wants that! So it is important to prevent the development of a Dowager’s Hump.

Causes of Dowager’s Hump?

Osteoporosis – A fixed deformity caused by the weakening of the bones.  This is caused by the loss of bone density, increasing the risk of bone fractures. Over time the development of a forward curve over the spine (stooping or forward bending posture)

This condition can develop in both men and women but is mostly diagnosed in women over the age of 40 due to the change in hormones through menopause.

Congenital – Scheuermann’s Disease also known as juvenile kyphosis is a hereditary condition where the vertebrae and discs of the spine develop a wedge shape. Usually, it effects children between 10-16.

Postural – Probably the most common, with the use of modern techology, we spend many hours in our day on our mobile phones and other devices or hunched over a computer or laptop all day long. This increased curve in the neck and thoracic spine leads to weakness of the muscles of the back and neck, leading to postural issues.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of Dowager’s Hump can vary in severity depending on the extent of the curvature and the cause.

An excessive curve – This is the main noticeable symptom.

Fatigue – Over time the postural muscle of the back become weak and over worked due the spine not aligned correctly.  The average head weighs 10-14 lbs which ideally needs to sit on top of your shoulders. Studies have shown that for every inch your head moves forward it gains 10lb and that weight needs to be absorbed by the muscles and ligaments. So with a forward posture, gravity puts a lot of strain in the muscles, ligaments and joints of the neck and back to try and keep you head upright.

Balance and co-ordination – With a forward posture the body is always fighting against the pull of the gravity causing the body to be unstable.

Severe stiffness in the spine – Over time more stress is placed on the joints of the spine which could lead to arthritic changes earlier.

Difficulty breathing –  If the condition is severe, this can impact the chest area, due to the rounding the shoulder creating a closed posture at the front of the chest.  This leads to  tightness within breathing mechanisms such as the diaphragm and accessary breathing muscles in the neck reducing the amount of oxygen distribution to the body.

Dowager’s Hump and Osteopathic Treatment

If you suspect that you have a Dowagers Hump, you want to get it treated soon rather than later as the smaller the curvature the better the results. This forward curve can lead to many issues so one of the first things that you can do to start combating the signs of Dowager’s Hump is to start improving your posture.

As an Osteopath we can treat and improve some of the symptoms of Dowager’s Hump in many ways. The limiting factor in treating a Dowager’s Hump is stiffness, so the main aim is to increase mobility and flexibility within the increase curvature itself.  Using a combination of osteopathic care, mobility, stretches and strengthening exercises, a comprehensive treatment plan can be put in place for you.

Contact me today to make an appointment! 07490686183 

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