What is it
That old lady crossing the street, struggling to push her grocery cart to her car, has a hump on her back starting at her neck. She looks like an old bird with her head sticking out in front like that. What happened to her to make her look that way?
This condition is referred to as a “dowager’s hump” or “widow’s hump.” We will discuss it in this blog and continue with solutions in the blog that follows, so stay with me here. It is osteoporosis in advanced stages. Osteo means bone and porosis means porous or not solid. Primarily elderly white and Asian women are affected by a rounded back caused by osteoporosis. Not only is a hunchback very painful, but the body’s center of gravity is also shifted forwards. Pathological kyphosis (in this case the increased tilt of the thoracic spine forwards) changes the body’s static equilibrium and increases the tendency to sway. This can lead to a higher risk of falling.
In addition, it may result in reduced lung function, which may make breathing more difficult.
Causes of an osteoporosis-related hunchback
The reduced bone density caused by osteoporosis can lead to a widow’s hump, especially in women who have gone through menopause. In osteoporosis, the bones lose density and stability. Fractures are particularly common in the spine among the elderly because of this weakening of the bones. As a result, the vertebrae can slump down. This is known as an osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture, which can lead to a widow’s hump. When there is an abnormally and significantly crooked thoracic spine it is called hyperkyphosis. Kyphosis is defined as excessive outward curvature of the spine, causing hunching of the back.
Not only is a hunchback very painful, but the misalignment shifts the body’s center of gravity forwards. Pathological kyphosis (in this case the increased tilt of the thoracic spine forwards) changes the body’s static equilibrium and increases the tendency to sway. This can lead to a higher risk of falling. In addition, it may result in reduced lung function, which may make breathing more difficult.
This is primarily due to the changes in static equilibrium that affect the entire spinal column over the long term. The increased kyphosis can lead to shortening, hardening, and stiffness of the muscles and tendons. You should see your orthopedic if back pain comes on suddenly. One of the things the doctor will consider is an acute vertebral fracture. An X-ray will help get an accurate diagnosis.
Osteoporosis makes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or even coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist, or spine. This is why you hear so many elderly having serious problems when they fall and break a hip or spine.
Regeneration is constant, except when you are old
Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. We never think of bone this way, the way we look at muscle tissue. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone. And as one ages there is less muscle and bone support than it had when one is younger. I suppose mother nature stops feeding us need nutrients, such as collagen because it is time to slow down.
Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women, especially older women who are past menopause, are at the highest risk. Medications, a healthy diet, and weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.
No Early Symptom to Warn You
What are you going to do about it when there typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. It is an amazing phenomenon to have bones undergoing such destruction and not know about it. So it would be good to make a periodic visit to your doctor to test and see if they are still good. We know that Collagen stops making bone, except for an exceptionally small percentage of growth when a person reaches over seventy. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that include: Loss of height, back pain caused by a fracture of the vertebra that has collapsed, you are now stooping and you have bones that break easily.
What Can Be Done About it?
Now you know what it is, and that it affects women of advanced age more than men. Seldom do you see a man with a hunch back, but the bellringer of Notre Dame seems to be an exception. We will discuss next the effect of the lack of calcium and other nutrients and the available therapies that will slow the process of bone deterioration and alleviate pain.
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