Are you noticing a hump on your upper or mid back?

We often get asked – with Dowagers Hump – ‘Can you fix it?’. Increasing number of people, of all ages are finding themselves spending more time sitting over a phone or computer and this posture can start to cause some rounding of the back.

Some of the common questions we get asked are:

  • What is a Dowagers hump?
  • Do I have a Dowagers hump
  • What causes the hump?
  • Can you help fix my Dowagers hump?

1. What is a Dowagers hump?

This term is used to describe the increased curve in the upper and/or mid section of the spine. There is a normal backward curve in the mid back (thoracic spine) known as a kyphosis. This curve is seen when looking at the spine from the side view, however, there are several reasons why this curve can increase. This increase curve can have a ‘hump’ appearance, what is medically known as a ‘increased kyphosis’ or Dowagers hump.

2. Do I have a Dowagers hump?

A practitioner, such as a chiropractor, physiotherapist, osteopath or medical doctor that is trained in this area, can do an examination to determine the spinal curvatures. Often this problem can be observed, however, the cause of the increase curve needs to be established. That way, appropriate advice about care can be given. An x-ray evaluation is the first imaging that is requested in determining the cause of the  increased kyphosis.

3. What causes the hump?

Mostly we see the increase in curve due to postural reasons, however there are also structural reasons whey the curve can develop.

Postural causes :With poor posture from excessive sitting can over time, can cause a rounding of the mid back. This is worsened with a lack of exercise, perpetuating the weakness of the upper back muscles that would normally pull the shoulders back and down.

The upper back hump can generally be associated with an increase in forward head posture, causing the rounding up top of the spine.

Typically, postural kyphosis can be helped with the right advice, postural exercises and a sound ergonomic set up or work or study. If the curve feels ‘stuck’ then manual therapy and spinal corrective care, such as Chiropractic BioPhysics, may be warranted.

Structural causes: These causes are seen less often in our office, and they can be due to –

  • Congenital causes. This is when a baby is born with a deformed spine.
  • Scheuermann’s disease. This is seen when the growth of the back bones, called vertebrae, is uneven. The back part will grow faster than the front and this creates a wedging in the bones, where normally they have more of a square shape. This wedging creates the increase kyphosis. We tend to see this more in teenage boys as they go through a growth spurt and there may be a familial link. It’s difficult to diagnose because poor posture if often seen in teenagers, hence this condition is easily missed. Most cases will find out as adults, once they have well and truly past their growth spurts.
  • Secondary reasons. Trauma, osteoporotic fractures, degenerative changes are other reasons why the kyphosis can increase. To diagnose these secondary causes, then an X-ray evaluation is an important starting point.

4. Can you help fix my Dowagers hump?

This is very much dependant on the cause of the increase in mid or upper back curves. If the problem is more postural and the flexibility and severity is mild to moderate, certain therapies, such as Chiropractic BioPhysics may help. Each case is different and the curve severity and joint stiffness, along with appropriate exercise and posture advice, all need to be addressed for the best results.

The structural cases, such as Scheurermann’s disease are important to diagnose early and then to manage. Other structural causes of the Dowager’s hump, such as osteoporosis are a medical condition and require medical attention.

Firstly, the reason for the increase in curve needs to be established. Once that is done then the best course of treatment, whether it is medical or corrective will need determined. If you have mid back pain and/or feel that you may have a Dowager’s hump, then feel free to call us on 9329 1118 or message us below.

If you feel this information will be of value to someone you know and you feel we have answered the question ‘With Dowagers Hump – ‘Can you FIX it?’, then tag them below.

For information on how you could improve your home desk set up  CLICK HERE.  Here is a link to  ‘5 movements a healthy spine should be able to do’, CLICK HERE.

Lisa Smycz, director

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