Medical Definition of Hump, dowager

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hump, dowager: An outward curvature of the vertebrae of neck, creating a hump at the back of the neck, once thought to be a characteristic deformity of older women.

A dowager was a woman of high social rank whose husband was dead but who had a title (such as duchess) and property because of her marriage to him.

Dowager hump, or dowager's hump, is formally known in medicine as postmenopausal cervical kyphosis. It is due to osteoporotic changes in the cervical spine. It may affect men or women. Like most osteoporotic changes, it is often preventable.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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