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What is a dowager's hump?

A dowager's hump is the common name for a curvature of the upper spine, which may occur in adults with weak bones. It is more common in women. As many adults age, their bones become less dense, increasing the risk for osteoporosis and spinal fractures. A dowager's hump is often seen in those with kyphosis, which is a very noticeable curvature of the spine.
Harris H. McIlwain, MD
Rheumatology
The dowager’s hump is the most common deformity from osteoporosis. It happens in the upper part of the spine. As the bones become thinner and weaker, the effort required to hold the body erect while standing or walking may cause a fracture in the vertebrae. Bending also can put pressure equivalent to several times the weight of the body on the back. The fractured vertebrae become shorter, usually by about one-fourth inch. This makes the spine bend forward, causing the person to appear stooped over.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.