As the name suggests, a neck hump is a condition in which a hump forms on the back of your neck. The condition is also called buffalo hump and dowager hump (the name depends on the reason behind the formation of the hump). In itself, the neck hump is not a serious problem. However, it might be caused because of other serious health problems like osteoporosis. 

Neck Hump Causes

A buffalo hump forms when a dorsocervical fat pad is built up between your shoulder blades. This build-up becomes the reason for the neck hump. Commonly, medications that are given to treat Cushing’s syndrome and HIV become buffalo hump causes. Some other possible buffalo hump causes are:

  • Your Genetics
  • Use of Steroids (either as medicines or enhancing performance)
  • Obesity

If the hump on back of neck is formed because of medications, it is very easy to treat the conditions. The doctors just alter the type of medication they are prescribing or they reduce the dosage. In some cases, surgery is also done to remove the fat tissue. 

‚ÄėDowager's hump‚Äô is now mostly an acceptable term in the field of medicine. It is now known as the curved spine. Most often, kyphosis and osteoporosis become the reason for a curved spine.¬†

  • Kyphosis: This is a condition in which the spine in the middle of your chest gets a curve of more than 50 degrees. In healthy people, this curve is somewhere between 20 and 45 degrees. Wearing a back brace, physical therapy, and back neck fat hump exercises and suggested to treat this condition. In some extreme cases, only surgical treatments prove to be effective.
  • Osteoporosis: This is a common condition in aged people. Because of osteoporosis, the upper back of the people gets very rounded. Various medications can increase bone mass, prevent fractures, and treat osteoporosis.¬†

Some other potential neck hump causes are:

  • Muscle Knots: When you overuse a muscle or sit in a poor posture for long times frequently, the muscles get tightened and painful clusters of muscles get formed. These muscle knots actually feel like a neck hump.¬†
  • Boils and carbuncles: When your hair follicles get infected with any type of bacteria (commonly the infection is caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria). In most cases, these boils burst and do not leave a scar.¬†
  • Cysts: Keratin material gets filled in the cysts and may form a hump on the back of your neck. Sometimes, this process of keratin filling in the lumps takes years.
  • Moles: Moles are sometimes flat, sometimes raised. A group of moles (as much as 30 to 40) can develop on the back of your neck. You should never ignore a mole that is getting bigger and changing its shape. Sometimes, these moles are the results of a serious form of skin cancer called melanoma.¬†


Here is a list of some steps that the doctors take to diagnose a neck hump:

  • Checking your complete medical history
  • Checking your current medications
  • Physical examination of suspicious moles
  • Conducting a thorough physical examination of the neck region
  • Doing X-rays to check if the vertebrae are aligned or not
  • Checking your bone density for osteoporosis
  • Testing your breathing capacity
  • MRI scan to check for compression in the spinal cord

Neck Hump Treatment

Neck hump treatment depends on the reason behind the hump. Here are some common neck hump treatment methods according to what is causing the hump on back of neck:

  • Boils and carbuncles:¬†In most cases of boils and carbuncles, warm moist compresses at home proves to be very effective. In some rare cases where there are signs of infection, the doctor might need to drain the lump and prescribe some medications to curb the infection from spreading further.¬†
  • Muscle knots:¬†The most effective treatment methods of treating muscles knots are¬†back neck fat hump exercises¬†and massage. Acupuncture can also work in relieving the pain. The doctor might prescribe you some medication if you are experiencing pain while doing¬†neck hump exercises.
  • Cysts:¬†If you can‚Äôt bear the irritation caused by cysts, the doctor will eventually have to drain the cyst. In some extreme cases, surgical removal of cysts is also done.¬†
  • Moles: Moles do not require any medical intervention unless there are some signs of melanoma. In the case of this type of cancer, surgically removing the moles becomes essential.¬†

In a large number of cases, doctors prescribe a home workout after neck hump diagnoses. In the home workout, you will be suggested some exercise to reduce neck hump. These buffalo hump exercises are easy to perform and give results in a relatively short period of time. 

Here is a list of the two most common buffalo hump exercises:

  1. Pectoral Stretch: This exercise helps you in stretching out your chest muscles. To do it, place your arms on one side of a door frame. With each arm, you will form a 90-degree angle. Lean in further and you will experience a relaxation feel in your muscles. You can also make an angle more than 90-degree if you think the stretch is too easy for you. 
  2. Upper Back Stretch: This is another common exercise to reduce neck hump. To do it, place your hands against a wall, above the head level. Keep your neck neutral and try to sink down into a stretch (ensure that you do not drop your head while doing the stretch). Sink further after about 10 to 15 seconds. 


In most cases, neck hump exercises, physical therapy, and medications are enough to treat the condition. However, when an affected person does not get medical treatment at the right time, some complications might develop. These complications depend on the reason for the neck hump. 

The complication of¬†neck hump¬†caused by osteoporosis is a risk of fractures and even long-term disability. The complications of the¬†neck hump¬†caused by kyphosis are trouble breathing and weakness in the legs. Boils and carbuncles can lead to scarring and sepsis. As we already discussed, moles can be a sign of cancer called melanoma.¬†‚Äć

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December 21, 2021

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