When you look in the mirror, do you notice a rounded hump or hunch on the back of your neck that may be affecting your posture? If so, you may have a neck hump. This spinal deformity has a range of stages and symptoms that may or may not have an impact on your quality of life.
Learn what a neck hump is, along with common causes, symptoms, misconceptions and treatments.
What Is a Neck Hump?
A neck hump is excessive curvature of the spine, which causes a hump or hunchback. While this forms in the neck, it can impact your upper back or shoulders. This spinal deformity has many alternative names, but there are some exceptions to be aware of, specifically the buffalo hump.
A traditional neck hump can look similar to a buffalo hump, but there are many key differences between the two. A buffalo hump is caused by excess fat tissue behind the neck, which creates a hump on the neck and shoulders. Contrary to popular belief, this is completely different from a traditional neck hump.
The term ‘neck hump’ typically refers to a spinal deformity known as kyphosis or a “dowager’s hump.” The following causes, symptoms and treatments listed below should only be considered for a dowager’s hump.
What Causes a Neck Hump?
A dowager’s hump is the result of structural changes in the spine that cause an abnormal curvature, or kyphosis. These changes have many potential causes, which can be diagnosed by a medical professional. Common causes include:
- Chronically poor posture
- Aging, which can wear down the spinal structure
- Back muscle weakness or deterioration
- Spinal injuries and weakness
- Compression fractures
- Degenerative disc disease
- Genetic spinal conditions
What Are the Symptoms of a Neck Hump?
A neck hump can have many non-cosmetic symptoms, especially when related to other back and neck conditions. Symptoms vary based on cause and severity, but here are a few that are common:
- Tight hamstrings
- Stiffness or pain in the neck or back
- Trouble sitting or standing up straight
- Loss of height
- Balance issues
If your symptoms are majorly impacting your quality of life, contact a medical professional. Keep an eye out for severe symptoms, like incontinence or fever, as these could indicate an urgent health problem that needs immediate medical attention.
How Do You Get Rid of a Dowager’s Hump?
There are many ways to treat a neck hump, and your doctor may suggest different solutions depending on the cause, symptoms and severity. Many wonder how long it takes to get rid of a neck hump. This depends on your unique condition and treatment plan. With consistent effort, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, provided that you don’t have an underlying condition that requires surgical intervention. The sooner you begin to seek out treatments for a neck hump, the more effective they will be.
Your doctor will likely recommend at-home treatments to help you get rid of your neck hump. Before trying any on your own, consult with a spinal specialist to ensure you are doing the right exercises and that they are not causing further damage. Your doctor may recommend the following neck hump exercises and other treatments to improve your condition:
- Exercises like chin tucks, shoulder squeezes and arm stretches
- Practicing correct posture
- Holding your phone at eye level to prevent text neck
- Taking breaks and moving around during the workday to improve spinal health
Many people wonder if weight loss can get rid of a neck hump. Since neck humps are caused by spinal curvature, and not excess fat tissue like a buffalo hump, it’s unlikely. Weight loss may be helpful in reducing the size of a buffalo hump, but not a dowager’s hump.
Your doctor may recommend medical treatments for your neck hump. Here are a few you can discuss during your consultation.
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain relief medications
- Using a back brace to train posture
- Spinal fusion surgery for more severe cases where noninvasive treatments are ineffective
Keep Your Spine Healthy With Citrus Spine
If you’re looking to treat your neck hump, then seeing a specialist can help you find the best treatment possible. Citrus Spine Institute is dedicated to providing the best treatment for your spine and can help you work toward a solution that gets rid of your dowager’s hump.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our Crystal River office