What has caused a fatty hump that has built up at the back of the neck, and can the hunched neck be fixed? Also known as ‘Dowager’s Hump’, it is often associated with Osteoporosis in the elderly, but the hunch is not exclusively a symptom of this disease. The buildup is also commonly referred to as ‘Buffalo Hump’, which is a result of the prominent curving of the middle vertebrae (thoracic vertebrae).
Everyone has a natural curve in this area, called a kyphosis, but when this curve has an extended bend (anything over 40 degrees is severe) it is called hyper kyphosis. The hyper kyphosis curve maybe exaggerated by fibrous tissue, which is a mound of fat that piles up on top of the curve, leaving the sufferer with a sense of embarrassment and sometimes awful pain.
Who Can Get A Hunched Neck?
The image of an old lady with a head scarf and no teeth, springs to mind when thinking about a hunched neck or back. However, it is not a condition just for the elderly or the cliché fairy tale character. It is also becoming common amongst young people, hunched over their technical devices. The natural curve can be exaggerated by some of the following habits:
- Lifting or carrying heavy weights
- Text neck (looking down whilst texting)
- Tech neck (poor posture whilst sitting behind a desk)
- Leaning the head forward for too long
There are a number of health, developmental or genetic reasons that someone may get a hunched neck:
- Osteoporosis, which may cause a crumbling of vertebrates, and a misshapen spine.
- Hyper extension of the middle neck region
- Abnormally shaped vertebrae (Scheuermann’s Kyphosis)
- Abnormal Development of the spine in the womb (congenital kyphosis), where vertebrae may fuse together.
- Cushing’s Syndrome, a condition where the body has an excessive amount of the hormone cortisol.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Hunched Neck?
If a person, usually a woman of postmenopausal age, has Osteoporosis, they may experience significant pain in their back and abdomen. The back pain is caused by the breakage or weakness in the bones, and the stomach issues are caused by the contortion of the spine pushing the abdomen out of place. If younger in age, increasing dairy and eating lots of green vegetables on a daily basis, both high in calcium, and will help strengthen the bones. As age sets in, calcium tablets are often advised by a doctor to help maintain the level of calcium in the body. In the late 1980’s, studies concluded that taking a daily slow release tablet of sodium fluorideand calcium citrate, helped stop bones from fracturing, which may also control the curve on the upper spine.
Poor posture can also lead to a hunched neck (Hyper Kyphosis) where symptoms may include:
- Stiffness in the back and neck
- Sensitivity of the spine
Hyper Kyphosis caused by poor posture, does not usually require drastic treatment. Pain medication, like ibuprofen or acetaminophenmay be administered, if it affects everyday living. How hunched neck should be treated, depends on the extent of the curve, age, and how flexible the person is. The younger the patient, the quicker the issue can be rectified. Braces have proven helpful in helping to keep the spine straight in younger people, aiding spine straightness until they stop growing (at around 15 years of age).
Exercises To Fix A ‘Hunched Neck’
There are a number of exercises to help prevent or even reverse a hunched neck. They must be completed every day, with consistency, to benefit and see results. It is always advisable to visit a health care practitioner before starting any new exercises, when there is a specific target condition to fix. Examples of recommended movements include:
- Shoulder rolls. Sit up straight on a chair, making sure legs are uncrossed. Breath in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Raise the shoulders on the inhale for the count of 8, pull the shoulders back and down on the exhale, for the count of 8. Repeat this exercise at least five times, morning and night.
- Stand up straight against a wall, with the back of the head touching the wall, pull chin in, leave for eight counts then relax. This exercise will help align and straighten the spine. This particular exercise works well when laying in bed, on the back and pulling the chin in. Repeat this exercise ten times in the morning and at night.
- Exercise class. There are a number of exercise classes which concentrate on the core/spine and posture and particularly useful to those with a hunched neck. Pilates, The Alexander Technique, Yoga and Tai Chi are all beneficial.
To find out more about fixing posture and a hunched neck, please visit www.getthrive.com