The Dowager's Hump: What Is It? What Can Be Done About It?

The Dowager's hump in medical terms is called hyperkyphosis. It is an increase in the forward curvature of the spine -- usually in the lower cervical (neck) and upper thoracic areas. A visible hump appears along the back of the spine and the head juts forward and eventually down if the curve is pronounced enough.

What causes it? And what can be done about it? Doctors and scientists are starting to pay more attention to this problem. It's not that it hasn't been around for a long time. But more of the Baby Boomers have this problem and they are concerned. Experts estimate hyperkyphosis may affect as many as four out of every 10 older adults. And it's not just women who develop this problem. Men are just as likely as women to become stooped over as they age. There is concern for how it looks but even more worrisome is the fact that vertebral fractures and even death may be more likely among folks with this condition.

Let's take a step back and answer the first question. What causes it? It's not entirely clear what causes it -- or if there is just one possible cause. There may be many underlying causes making this a multifactorial problem. Muscle weakness, muscle imbalance, degenerative disc disease, ligament problems, and certain metabolic problems top the list of potential causes. Since it seems to run in families, there could be a genetic link as well.

There are some inherited genetic conditions that include hyperkyphosis. These include Scheuermann disease, osteogenesis imperfecta, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and cystic fibrosis. Most of these problems directly affect the muscles and bones, but why hyperkyphosis is an outcome remains uncertain.

Usually the person with hyperkyphosis isn't as aware of the problem as others (family and friends) around them. Since it is more obvious when viewed from the side and most people view themselves in the mirror from the front, it can progress quite a bit before anyone seeks help for it. It can be completely asymptomatic (no symptoms), but neck pain and headaches can develop. Even in moderate cases, it can become difficult to lie on the backs comfortably because the head is flexed so far forward.

What can be done to treat this condition? Once again, there are more questions than answers. There haven't been a lot of studies done comparing the results of one treatment approach to another. This is an area wide open for future research. Possible treatment options include bracing, postural exercises, strength training, flexibility training, and surgery.

Even more important is the question: can this problem be prevented? Because hyperkyphosis has been observed in other conditions such as heart disease (e.g., atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries) and there are an increased number of deaths in people with hyperkyphosis, finding ways to prevent the problem is a good idea. There's been some suggestion that hyperkyphosis isn't just a simple problem of spinal curvature. From a big picture point-of-view, hyperkyphosis may be just one part of a larger number of health issues. It is certainly a signal that other health and functional problems are at hand.

For now, despite the fact that this condition has been around for hundreds of years, what we know about it isn't very much and highly questionable. It's definitely time to take a closer look and get some answers to the many questions.

Hyperkyphosis: A Common, Poorly Understood Condition. In The BACK Letter. July 2009. Vol. 27. No. 7. Pp. 76-77.

 Post to

 Email to a Friend


Interesting to read this

Interesting to read this great article indeed because I have known many great and new things from you. Thanks a lot one more time.
Dave @ sms spy


As far as I know, the Dowager's hump is a development resulting from habitual posture and muscular tensions in the neck and front of the body. Names like, "Forward Head Syndrome" make it sound like it's something that is happening to you, but that would be misleading; it's the result of something you are doing, and therefore is preventable and reversible. To reverse the condition, you need to do self-retraining of your posture. That process can be helped by certain somatic exercises that reshape movement and posture by changing muscular patterns of coordination -- or you could have sessions with a clinical somatic educator.

This is some great

This is some great information, it is very well written too. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers, keep up forexmegadroid robot //forexmegadroid
dub turbothe good work!

This disease is indeed fatal

This disease is indeed fatal and there needs to be some advanced research work conducted to find out the right cure for this disease. But since not many people know about this, the health blogs should provide some updated facts so that the readers could get more info on this.

There is no denying the fact

There is no denying the fact that this disease could indeed be harmful for both the gender, but to find the perfect cure for this the physicians need to have more information. Those who have some information about this disease could find more here.

Such health problems could

Such health problems could become complicated with time if not treated on time. However, you can find out about healthcare centers that deal with such special problems online. Check out where you can find out about a skin restoration process.

Not many people are aware of

Not many people are aware of this particular health problem, but having proper knowledge would help people get timely medical help. In such situations the patient might need long term care in home, so it would be better to hire a good nursing service provider like A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab, you can find them online at

This disease if not treated

This disease if not treated at an early stage could become complicated later. However, now finding a healthcare facility is so simple because you can access these online, if you need a treatment facility for dry eye disease then you can find that at

This particular disease

This particular disease Dowager's hump or hyperkyphosis is indeed a very serious health problem which could make life very painful for the patients. The best way to combat such health problems is to become aware of its effects. Although one can find solution to this health problem with surgery, it would be better to try other options like postural exercises, strength training. But for obtaining better treatment facility one should opt for a reputed healthcare facility like

It is best to gather

It is best to gather necessary information about this disease and preventive measures so that you can keep it at bay. It would be even better if you talk to a good orthopedic surgeon to find out more about the disease. No matter what kind of treatment procedure you have to undergo, you should only approach the most well known name in that field, for instance, if you need a cosmetic surgery specialist then you should contact Dr. Greg Ganske.

It is a serious health

It is a serious health condition about which not many have proper information. But now accessing information about any health problem and treatment procedure has become easier online. If you need to learn about the vein treatment procedures then you can find that information at

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

*Disclaimer:*The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.

All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.

Back to top

MySpace Tracker