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Hump behind the shoulders (Dorsocervical fat pad)

Hump behind the shoulders is an area of fat accumulation on the back of the neck. The medical name of this condition is dorsocervical fat pad.

Alternative Names

Buffalo hump; Dorsocervical fat pad

Considerations

A hump behind the shoulders by itself is not a sign of a specific condition. The doctor must consider this along with other symptoms and test results.

Causes

Cause of dorsocervical fat pad includes any of the following:

  • Certain medicines used to treat HIV or AIDS
  • Long-term use of certain glucocorticoid medicines, including prednisone, cortisone, and hydrocortisone
  • Obesity
  • Hypercortisolism (caused by Cushing syndrome )
  • Certain genetic disorders that cause unusual fat accumulation

Osteoporosis may cause a curvature of the spine in the neck called kyphoscoliosis . This causes an abnormal shape but does not by itself cause excessive fat in the back of the neck.

Home Care

If the hump is caused by a certain medicine, your doctor may tell you to stop taking the medicine or change the dosage. Do not stop taking the medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Diet and exercise can help you lose weight and may relieve some fat accumulation due to obesity.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have an unexplained hump behind the shoulders.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history and symptoms. Tests may be ordered to determine the cause.

Treatment will be aimed at the problem that caused the fat to develop in the first place.

References

Tan SH, Sen P, Tang M. Lipodystrophies. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 101.

Updated: 11/7/2013

Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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