Hump behind the shoulders consisting of fat accumulation is sometimes called buffalo hump. In medical terms, it is called dorsocervical fat pad. A buffalo hump, which is made up of fat around the neck and behind shoulders may indicate Cushing’s syndrome. At times, cysts, tumors, and other types of abnormal growths may form on shoulders and create a hump. Bone curvature in spine may also cause a hump. When the hump is made up of fat, it is not necessarily a cause of concern. However, you should talk to your doctor if you notice physical changes occurring at the back of your neck.
The lump of fat may look unsightly and usually develops at top of back in the area between the shoulders. Although buffalo hump may not cause serious complications, it might result to disorders such as tumor of adrenal glands or pituitary. There may be no need to have treatment for buffalo hump unless the causative factor is a disease that needs to be treated.
Therefore, the treatment mainly depends on the cause, and whether it presents any risks of complications. Surgical treatment, changes in diet, exercise, and hormonal therapy may be needed. Underlying tumors may be removed through surgery.
Buffalo Hump – causes
A hump occurring behind shoulders may be due to a medical condition but other times, it can be caused by medications you are taking. The lump can arise as a result of different conditions, which are characterized by increased glucocorticoid, or cortisol hormones that are produced by adrenal gland.
The most common cause of increased levels of cortisol is the use of corticosteroids taken orally. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to treat various conditions such as inflammatory diseases. When the body produces excess of cortisol, it may lead to increased levels of these hormones in blood. Elevated levels of cortisol causes a collection of symptoms associated with Cushing’s syndrome.
In Cushing’s syndrome, an individual’s adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. This occurs due to a pituitary tumor that produces hormones, which in turn direct the adrenal glands to release more of cortisol hormone. Cushing’s syndrome causes obesity especially above the waist. It also causes chronic pain, acne, and irregular menstrual cycles. In addition to the changes in bone and muscles structures, Cushing’s syndrome may cause fat, which can gather behind the neck.
Occasionally, buffalo hump may be caused by osteoporosis, a condition that manifests in form of thinning and weakening of bones. Women in menopausal stage or older adults are considered to be at a greater risk of suffering from osteoporosis because their bodies are not able to absorb calcium sufficiently.
When you have osteoporosis, you may develop bone deformities. The spine can curve and give a hump like appearance, which is known as kyphoscoliosis. The side effects of medicines such as those prescribed to treat AIDs may cause this buffalo hump. Extreme obesity or build up of fat in body also referred to morbid obesity could cause the condition.
Symptoms of buffalo hump
A buffalo hump will have a lump of fat on the shoulder or behind the neck. Other symptoms may accompany buffalo hump and they include acne, easy of bruising, excessive thirst, and frequent urination. A person with this lump of fat may also experience emotional changes, elevated blood sugar, facial swelling or redness, and high blood pressure.
Other symptoms likely to be experienced by person having buffalo hump are thinning of skin, weakness, obesity, menstrual changes, round or moon shaped face, and glucose intolerance. Most of these symptoms are indicative of excess cortisol hormone in blood.
When you have buffalo hump and it is persistent or causes a lot of concern, make sure you see a medical doctor. There may also be other symptoms associated with buffalo hump such as those related to osteoporosis, scoliosis, and kyphoscoliosis.
Diagnosing buffalo hump
A doctor can diagnose the hump through physical examination alone. However, in order to find out what could be behind the formation of the lump, tests may need to be conducted. The doctor will inquire about your medical history and other symptoms you may have developed before the hump formed. Among the tests that may be performed include bone density test, X-ray, CT scan, and blood tests to check the level of hormones and cortisol.
Treatment of buffalo hump
When you have a lump of fat forming on shoulder, it is important that the causal factor be identified so that treatment is offered. In certain cases, with the doctor’s advice; cosmetic surgery might be performed to remove the fat deposits. Nonetheless, the cause of that fat accumulation has to be determined and unless it is treated, it may still cause the fat to continue accumulating even after a surgery.
When the cause is associated with side effects of some medicines, you might want to talk to your doctor. The medication may be changed or the dosage altered. But you shouldn’t stop taking medicines without the permission of your doctor. While there may be no guarantee that you can prevent hump on shoulder from forming, there are things you can do which reduce the risks.
You can protect yourself from osteoporosis by taking the recommended daily intake of calcium as well as vitamin. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of having thinning bones and obesity. Women in menopausal stage or over the age of 51 may consider increasing their calcium intake.