Osteoporosis can lead to dowagers humps
Dowagers humps: Frequently asked questions:
1. What is this? Where did the term originate?
If you have Osteoporosis of the spine, your vertebrae can fracture. This can cause Kyphosis or a Spinal hump.
These fractures sometimes happen 'spontaneously' but they happen most often when a person bends forward from the waist or leans to the side to pick up something
. (This is why competent physical therapy and yoga instructors always
tell their clients NEVER to bend from the waist - only from the hips.)
Because so many women used to have untreated bone loss, this bent-over posture (Kyphosis) was associated with older women. Since the word dowager means a "dignified elderly woman" and since many older women developed this sort of back hump, people began to call this disfigurement a dowager's hump - even if the person with the kyphosis was a young woman or a man.
2. What is the process in developing Kyphosis or dowagers hump?
When your spinal vertebrae lose a great deal of bone they become porous. They sometimes fracture spontaneously. This is most likely to happen if you bend forward from the waist, putting pressure on your spine. (In yoga, for example, practitioners are taught to ALWAYS bend from the hips- never from the waist. This keeps stress off spinal vertebrae.)
But many people bend forward from their waist during the day - reaching for things, loading a dishwasher - even sitting curled in a chair while reading or watching television.
NOTE: There are 3 types of spinal fractures that can occur in advanced osteoporosis.
- Wedge fracture - with this fracture the front of the vertebra collapses.
- Bioncave fracture - the midsection of the vertebra collapses.
- Crush fracture - the entire vertebra collapses. This type of fracture leads to lessening in overall height. You may
notice that your health care provider measures your height at least once a year. They do this because a decrease in height can be an indication that your spine has had a crush fracture.
Dowagers humps (Kyphosis) are usually caused by wedge fractures. In this kind of fracture the front of
a vertebra collapses. Since the back of the vertebra remains intact, the vertebra 'tips' forward and the spine becomes slightly misaligned and the section above the
fracture tips forward making the back curve slightly.
As the vertebrae above your wedge fracture 'tip forward' they put stress on other vertebrae. This stress often causes another vertebra to develop a 'wedge fracture'. As more and more vertebrae collapse in wedge fractures, your back becomes more and more bowed. In very advanced cases of kyphosis a person can become severely bent over.
3. Where in the spine do these fractures occur?
Spinal fractures, the kind that leads to dowagers humps, usually occur in the thoracic spine(in the area of your lungs) or upper half of your lumbar spine. These two areas extend from the middle of your shoulder blades through your lower back behind your
No. If you have advanced osteoporosis of the spine these fractures can occur when lifting something or even when sneezing or coughing.
Many people have one of these fractures when they come to an upright position after leaning forward. This is one reason why you should not do certain exercises if you have Osteoporosis of the spine. See: Osteoporosis exercise warning Daily activities, exercises to avoid if you have spinal osteoporosis or any degree of dowagers humps
4. How will I know if I have a 'wedge fracture'? Are they painful?
5. What is it like to live with Kyphosis ( dowagers humps) ?
As Kyphosis develops, you may experiences muscle fatigue
and pain in your neck and shoulders because of needing to stretch your neck muscles in order to look 'the world in the face'. Also since you chin gets closer to
your rib cage, you are using new muscles to balance you head. This is fatiguing.
If Kyphosis advances to there is a more of a hump, it often becomes more difficult to breath deeply since dowagers hump reduces how far your lungs expand.
And the posture of the upper spine changes, your abdomen may begin to protrude. This distresses some people. Also the changed posture makes it difficult to get clothes to fit well. Some women begin to avoid social occasions because they do not like the way they look. (You may want to check our some clothing tips for those with back hump.
Finally , as the dowagers hump becomes more pronounced, some women become fearful of falling and they begin to limit their activities.
6. Is there any thing you can do about a dowagers hump?
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Click to read some Natural treatments you can use to increase your bone density and avoid fractures of you spine.
Page revised: 2013