Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My husband is starting to get hunched forward. His shoulders are rounded forward and he can't lie on the floor without a big pillow to support his head. I keep telling him to stand up straight but he doesn't do it. Is there a brace or some other kind of shoulder harness that could help keep this from getting worse?

Answer:

Your husband may be developing a condition called hyperkyhosis. This is a forward curvature of the spine. You may have heard it by another more common name: Dowager's hump. People think this problem only affects women, hence the name. But, in fact, it is just as common among men. No one knows for sure what brings this on, so the optimal treatment to prevent it or correct it has not yet been discovered. Physical therapists offer postural exercises, strengthening, and flexibility training but studies have not been done to compare differences in results between people with hyperkyphosis who follow the treatment versus those who don't get the treatment. The same is true for bracing, surgery, or devices like shoulder harnesses. Clearly, telling someone who is unaware of the problem to stand up straight doesn't have much of an effect. Habit, gravity, and muscle imbalances pull them right back into the posture. Studies show that there are often other health issues that accompany hyperkyphosis. It may be best to have a medical exam to rule out other possible causes for the problem. Your primary care physician or orthopedic specialist can help make the diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment. Hyperkyphosis: A Common, Poorly Understood Condition. In The BACK Letter. July 2009. Vol. 27. No. 7. Pp. 76-77.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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