Looking for a way to fix Dowager’s hump? Call Mount Prospect Health Center at 973-485-2332!
Spinal problems can affect anyone at any point in their life, especially those with desk jobs and sedentary lifestyles. These problems can range dramatically in severity and worsen if left untreated. The good news is that Dowager’s hump and other spinal problems are treatable, and early intervention can help alleviate symptoms and treat the condition before it worsens.
People often see a chiropractor for help with pain relief and injuries. A chiropractor can also help with gradual problems like Dowager’s Hump.
What Is Dowager’s Hump?
Dowager’s hump, or kyphosis, is a condition that affects approximately 35% of young women between 20 and 64 and up to 40% of older adults over 60. It presents as an outward curvature of the thoracic spine, leading to a pronounced “hump” at the back of the neck.
While some curvature is normal, Dowager’s hump becomes a problem when it starts to limit mobility and increase discomfort. If left untreated, kyphosis can lead to an increased risk of vertebral compression fractures due to the increased stress on vertebrae.
The Causes of Dowager’s Hump
Dowager’s hump has numerous causes, including:
- Bad posture: According to the NIH, poor posture leads to back pain, with almost 25% of Americans experiencing back pain in any three-month period. Poor posture, such as slumping forward or extending your neck while sitting, can also lead to muscle imbalances and weaknesses, which result in conditions like Dowager’s hump.
- Osteoporosis: This is a medical condition where bones lose calcium and become weak and brittle. A side-effect of osteoporosis is that your vertebrae may struggle to support your head, leading to an increased forward lean and the start of a neck hump.
- Chronic/congenital conditions: Some rare genetic disorders and medical conditions, such as Scheuermann’s disease, can result in spinal deformation, leading to the early development of kyphosis and other abnormalities. If other family members have Dowager’s hump, consult your physician to devise a prevention and treatment plan.
Symptoms Associated with Dowager’s Hump
Kyphosis can vary dramatically in severity, from a mild slump to an excessive curvature that impedes mobility and quality of life. Common symptoms of Dowager’s hump include:
- Pronounced neck hump: Usually the first symptom that people notice, the thoracic spine starts to extend forward, leading to a small hump at the base of the neck. Unlike poor posture, this hump doesn’t disappear when you straighten up, or you may struggle to do so.
- Back pain: Dowager’s hump causes mild back pain, especially towards the top of the spine and between your shoulders. As the condition worsens, this pain will increase in severity and affect your quality of life.
- Fatigue: Your body will try to compensate for the incorrect curvature of your spine, leading to unbalanced muscle groups and fatigue, especially in your back and legs.
- Trouble breathing: Extreme kyphosis can put pressure on the chest cavity, leading to difficulty breathing and increased acid reflux.
The first step in treatment is to get an official diagnosis. While it’s usually easy to visually see a neck hump, your physician will need to perform a few tests, including a radiograph, to calculate the angle of kyphosis. Your physician will then discuss various treatment and prevention options to alleviate the symptoms and potentially reverse the effects of Dowager’s hump.
The good news is that in many cases, non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy and chiropractic care are enough to strengthen the neck muscles, correct mild kyphosis, and prevent the condition from worsening.
Chiropractic care tries to correct Dowager’s hump by tackling the spinal misalignment. During your first visit, your chiropractor will examine your spine and discuss your symptoms. In some cases, they may ask for an X-ray to better understand your condition.
Once your chiropractor has a clear picture of your needs, they will devise a personalized treatment plan that adjusts the spine and strengthens the muscles around the area.
The most common method of treating Dowager’s hump is the flexion-distraction technique. This adjustment gently moves the spine without causing pain, releasing pent-up pressure and reducing inflammation and sensitivity in the area. If you’ve visited a chiropractor for treatment for other conditions, you’ll be very familiar with this technique.
Your chiropractor may also use supplementary methods, such as massage therapy and ultrasound, to further reduce inflammation, strengthen muscles, and correct spinal alignment.
In many cases, the underlying cause of Dowager’s hump is muscle weakness in the neck area. Targeted exercises, such as chin tucks and scapular squeezes, can improve your posture and reposition your spine into its correct alignment.
Most chiropractors will recommend exercise as part of your therapy. Pay close attention to what you need to do, as correctly performing these exercises is essential to their effectiveness. While these exercises may start off feeling uncomfortable and tedious, you’ll quickly get used to them and start seeing results.
The main thing to remember with any exercise is to stay consistent without overdoing it. Go slow, listen to your body, and gradually increase your number of exercises daily, and you’ll start noticing improvements in your well-being. If your discomfort level increases, consult your chiropractor or physician for further treatment options.
Surgery is typically the last resort for treating Dowager’s hump, as spinal surgery is complex, challenging, and risky. However, if your condition worsens and starts to affect your health and quality of life, it may be the only option left to fix Dowager’s hump.
Contact Your Trusted Chiropractor in Newark, NJ, To Combat the Symptoms of Dowager’s Hump
If you want to fix Dowager’s hump or are concerned about developing it due to bad posture or osteoporosis, don’t hesitate to contact us at Mount Prospect Health Center. Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and NJ PIP (Personal Injury Protection); same-day appointments may also be available.