Dowager’s Hump Causes and Treatments


What is Dowager’s hump all about?

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Dowager’s hump is a term used to describe a condition of the back called kyphosis. An abnormal outward curvature of the thoracic vertebrae of the upper back. A visible hump, or fat pad, along with the back of the spine near the bottom of the neck and where the head juts forward. This conduction typically affects older women but men are just as likely as women to become stooped over as they age.


How can this happen?

This can happen due to a number of reasons.

  • Genetic Causes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bad Posture
  • Compression Fractures
  • Underlying causes such as muscle weakness, muscle imbalance, degenerative disc disease, ligament problems, and certain metabolic problems

Exercise Foam Rolling

Using a foam exercise roller not only helps with stretching muscles and tendons but can also break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.

  • You have to be able to navigate your body on the foam roller well enough to directly treat it. 
  • Be consistent and work on it every day.
  • You must be willing to change your behavior and posture when you sit at your desk and consider the fact that YOU are causing your Dowager’s hump.


Posture Exercises: Strength Training & Flexibility Training

One simple postural exercise you can start doing to slow the progression of the dowager’s hump is the shoulder shrug. Stand facing a mirror with feet about shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Holding a small dumbbell in each hand — 5-10 pounds if well-tolerated — with both arms straight down at sides, shrug shoulders as high as possible. Lower shoulders back down again. Perform two sets of 10-15 repetitions two to three times a week. The movement should be smooth and steady without jerking. This will strengthen the trapezius muscle across the top of the back and help minimize the appearance of the dowager’s hump.

Younger women would do well to increase their calcium intake. They also should engage in more weight-bearing exercises to prevent osteoporosis. However, it is never too late to change the habits of a lifetime and slow the progression of this disease at any age.