Battle of the Neck Bulge
It's not just for old folks
Dowager’s Hump is the culmination of a tremendous amount of stress to the lower cervical
vertebrae as the thoracic (middle back) spine perpetually flexes forward.
The most common cause of a true Dowager’s Hump is a subtle fracture of the spine. This type of fracture is called a “wedge fracture,” and it happens in older adults. However, if you sit at a desk all day long and slouch or you lean your head forward to read your screen, you compress the front portion of the spinal bones, which ultimately alters your posture, whether or not it leads to a fracture of any bones. Even when you go to straighten up, if this posture is constant, at some point you can’t get straight as your vertebral facets can’t close. This is only half the story of what defines a Dowager’s Hump.
For every inch that your head is in front of your body, it’s an additional 10 pounds of perceived weight that your brain and body have to deal with. So if you have a 3-inch forward head carriage, that’s 30 extra pounds in addition to the actual weight of your head!
If the body and brain keep relaying this weight signal, the body does an amazing thing – it protects itself. It does this by laying down more and more fibrous material in the many layers of connective tissue. Unfortunately, this is like a traffic jam of sensory receptors in one local area and it can be very painful.
The body doesn’t give up hope with its signals. It actually lays down more fibers and sends more material around the bones that are slowly deforming at an even faster rate. As much as the body is doing a good thing by protecting itself from your bad postural habits, your spine is actually becoming more stiff and adhered with all this extra fiber. The body is actually satisfied with this because it senses that the head is more protected and won’t fall off. You will start to notice an ache in your lower neck, and if you feel the tissue back there, it will feel thicker and stiffer than the tissue in other areas.
This extra fiber is actually pretty useless. As the tissue and fibers begin to create an interweaving of fat cells in the extracellular matrix, the superficial layers become excessively thick, almost rubbery in texture. And although it seems to your body that this extra thickening is helping, over time, it’s only making matters worse, causing stiffness and pain.
Treat it with:
Even if you don't feel or see a bump now, it is important to correct your posture to prevent problems in the future.