Buffalo hump: Can we make it disappear? (7 tips)

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Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine 

You get a unsightly bump at the top of your back which, in addition to hampering the movements of your head, is not very pretty to see? Know that you can get rid of this fatty mass. In addition to physical exercises and natural treatments, you can also resort to cosmetic surgery.

What is a buffalo hump? What are its causes and the factors that favor it? What to do to get rid of a buffalo hump (ideally, naturally)? Find the answer to all these questions in this article.

Buffalo hump: what is it?

La bison hump correspond to an abnormal buildup fat that develops especially in the neck, neck and shoulders. It is a fatty mass that can occur due to a hormonal disorder or poor posture.

Normally, fatty tissue is evenly distributed in all areas of the body. However, an anomaly called lipodystrophies sometimes happens. In this case, there is an accumulation of lipid on a specific area, in this case at the back of the neck.

La lipodystrophy is divided into two categories

  • La lipohypertrophy which is an abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue that can affect different parts of the body: the stomach, the chest (especially in women), the neck, the nape of the neck and the shoulders.
  • La lipoatrophy which is an abnormal loss of fatty tissue. It can affect the face, arms, and buttocks.

It is important to distinguish between a fatty deposits et spinal deformity (sometimes referred to as a bony buffalo hump).

MRI showing cervico-dorsal kyphosis
Source

Indeed, a cervico-dorsal kyphosis can also cause a buffalo hump. It is a deformation or an accentuated curvature of the spine forward, at the junction between the vertebrae cervical and dorsal.

If one wishes to clarify the diagnosis and to determine the exact cause of the bison hump, one generally prescribes a medical imaging. This makes it possible in particular to distinguish between a bison hump, an abscess or a cyst.

What causes buffalo hump?

Mediafixer causes of a bison hump are numerous. Often, this disorder is due to an excessive accumulation of fat or a hormonal imbalance, particularly linked to a high level of cortisol. Being overweight also has something to do with lipohypertrophy. Obese people are the most affected by this morphological disorder.

bison hump
Source

The bison hump is usually found in an area that is subject to near-permanent physical stress. Indeed, it is located between a very mobile part, the cervical spine ; and another little mobile which is the thoracic spine. This growth is therefore favored by certain factors such as:

  • a bad postural habit,
  • muscle weakness or imbalances,
  • or a lack of flexibility in certain muscles
  • a Scoliosis

Other factors may be at theorigin of a buffalo hump :

  • certain medicines including those used to treat HIV;
  • certain hormonal diseases (Cushing's disease, Hashimoto's, etc.);
  • diabetes ;
  • osteoporosis;
  • certain genetic disorders responsible for unusual accumulation of fat...

What are the symptoms of buffalo hump?

At its beginning, it is sometimes difficult to recognize a buffalo hump. However, there are warning signs before the bump is clearly visible from the outside. Here are some examples:

  • headache (tension headache);
  • rolled shoulders;
  • roundness in the back;
  • back pain and stiffness;
  • difficulty sleeping on your back;
  • stiffness and discomfort in the neck...
neck pain

This disorder is particularly linked to a dysfunction of lipid metabolism. We can therefore see an accumulation of fat in other areas. The pile of fat can also be found on the stomach and breasts. It is more common in women.

Here are signs of lipohypertrophy which can make suspect a buffalo hump:

  • sunken cheeks, temples and eyes;
  • veins that stand out more on the arms and legs;
  • larger breasts in both men and women;
  • growths of fatty masses on the body;
  • high cholesterol;
  • high blood glucose (blood sugar).

What to do to get rid of a bison hump?

Treatment for buffalo hump will only be effective if the deformity stems from a spinal deformity. In the stockings where it is a fatty mass that causes this disorder, only cosmetic surgery will be effective.

The treatments generally prescribed are as follows:

Postural advice

To undo with a buffalo hump, it is necessary to modify its posture. Indeed, this condition is particularly linked to the following 3 factors:

  • the shape of the vertebrae;
  • the head leaning too far forward (repeatedly and/or prolonged);
  • shoulder blades and shoulders curling forward
posture

Note: To benefit from advice from the physiotherapist to straighten your back and improve your posture, see the following article.

VITT MARKE Posture Corrector Size L/XL, Back Straightener for Men or Women Maintains Straight Back and Spine Support Kyphosis Correction Storage Bag Included Black
  • Le posture corrector Vitt Marke is available in size S/M and size L/XL: all sizes, whether small or large, will find the support they are looking for.
  • Soft and breathable fabric, made of high quality microperforated neoprene.
  • Practical and ergonomic, this posture corrector is easy to put on and pleasant to wear. It does not produce pressure on the shoulders and therefore does not leave a mark.

Food

Generally speaking, diet has very little influence on bison hump. On the other hand, you could be advised to follow a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. According to this theory, treating excess weight could help reduce the buffalo hump in some cases.

If the bison hump is accompanied by pain, a anti-inflammatory diet could help relieve symptoms in addition to controlling excess weight.

buffalo hump treatment
Source

massage ball

Using a massage (or tennis) ball might help reduce cervico-dorsal kyphosis if it is found to be responsible for your buffalo hump. The principle is simple:

  • Stand upright with a massage ball between your buffalo hump and the wall
  • Using your feet, push lightly so that you “smash” your buffalo hump against the wall
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times. You may feel a slight stiffness after exercise, but this should subside within a reasonable time.
  • Do this exercise as regularly as possible, without causing persistent pain. Increase the pressure gradually.
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  • 🌸 Different degrees of hardness and surfaces allow for different trigger points and tensions

In addition to the massage ball, it is possible to relax the muscles using effective and safe accessories. It is possible to do this independently using the following products (with recommendations):

Acupressure Kit Acupressure Mat Cushion - Massage Ball + Pillow + Bag Relieve Back and Neck Pain Muscle Relaxation Acupuncture Post Sport Recovery Anti Stress
  • 【Multifunctional Physiotherapy】The acupressure kit set includes an acupressure mat and pillow, and 2 massage balls. You can use the acupressure set in different ways and on different parts of the body, such as lower back pain, insomnia, chronic stress, fatigue, tension, circulatory disorders, etc.
  • 【Safe and Premium Material】The acupressure mat massager, cushion cover and storage bag are made of 100% cotton, the inside is 21D high-density eco-friendly sponge. The massage nail is made of non-toxic ABS plastic. 100% natural without side effects, hypoallergenic.
  • 【Natural Ancient Indian Healing】 The acupressure mat has 230 massage nails, 6210 massage points, the pillow has 73 massage nails, 1971 massage points. Your weight is evenly distributed into thousands of small pieces to stimulate countless acupuncture points. Ideal for relaxation and promoting circulation. The size of the acupressure mat is 68*42cm, the size of the massage pillow is 37 x 15 x 10cm.
RENPHO Cervical Massager, Shiatsu Massage Device, Back and Neck Shoulder Massage with Heating, 3D-Rotation Adjustable Speed, Gifts for Mothers Dad Women Men
  • Relieve Aches – The RENPHO neck massager gives you the benefits of a professional shiatsu massage at home, saving you time and money. Its ergonomic U-shaped design and 8 deep kneading nodes simulate human fingers to create a super comfortable deep shiatsu massage. This shiatsu massager relieves pain for the whole body; for use on neck, shoulders, back, legs, thighs, calves and feet
  • Heating - This shoulder massager includes heat functions, which more effectively relieve muscle aches and tension, aches, pains and release trigger points while improving overall circulation. Vibration and heat functions can be turned on or off independently
  • MULTIPLE INTENSITIES AND DIRECTIONS - This neck massager will take the worry out of a sudden change in direction when you've found the sweet spot. It will keep a kneading shiatsu massage in one direction until you want to change it. Combine this with 3 speed levels and your pulling strength to surely find the right intensity to relieve muscle pain
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ALDOM Muscle Massage Gun Massage Device Deep Muscle Massager with 30 Adjustable Levels 6 Massage Heads and LCD Display Relieve Aches and Stiffness
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  • 【6 in 1 Massager Kit】The muscle roller set includes 1*foam roller, 1*massage roller stick, 1*massage ball, 1*resistance band, 1*figure-of-8 exercise band and 1 storage bag. You will treat yourself to a full body massage – from the neck to the feet. 12 months warranty, so please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we will do our best to satisfy our customers.
  • 【Effective Tension Relief】Use this foam roller set before workout to stretch muscles and prevent muscle injury. You can also activate muscles to enhance exercise effects during exercise. It is also suitable for stretching and balance exercises. Use for 20-30 minutes daily to relieve tight, stiff muscles and relieve tension.
  • 【Excellent Elasticity and Durability】The muscle roller set is made of eco-friendly EVA material which has excellent durability, water resistance and elasticity, and is not easily deformed. The foam roller with protrusions is gentle on the body and gives an acupressure feeling. No smell, no harm to the body, no sweat. You can wash it directly with water.
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  • BACK MASSAGE ROLLER TO RELIEVE YOUR MUSCLE PAIN: relieve your muscle pain and tension with the Core Balance spiked foam roller. Roll the muscle massage roller placed under your muscles to break up soft tissue adhesions and target painful trigger points (muscle knots).
  • DEEPER MYOFASCIAL RELEASE: Our back massager roller features a hollow plastic body with a nubby foam exterior for deeper myofascial release. The nubs on this back roller act like the hands and fingers of a massage therapist to target, relax and release tight muscle knots much more effectively.
  • IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE: Rolling the back roller over your muscles releases toxins, and increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the target area. Massage your muscles with our fitness roller before or after a workout to boost your performance, speed up your recovery time and protect you from injury.
ZenPur – Memory Foam Ergonomic Cervical Pillow Designed in France & Made in Europe – Oeko Tex Certified – Cervical Pillow, Anti-Mite, Bamboo Cover, Memory Foam Cushion
  • ✅SLEEP IN ANY POSITION: Say goodbye to waking up in the middle of the night with neck pain and shoulder problems. ZenPur's high-quality anti-pressure memory foam ergonomic pillow conforms to your shape and supports your head and neck for a comfortable sleep. The cervical pillow is neither too firm nor too soft, this orthopedic pillow is the best choice, whether you sleep on your back, stomach or side.
  • ✅ FIND DEEP SLEEP UNTIL MORNING ➡️ The memory foam enriched with soybean oil in our ergonomic orthopedic premium pillow provides unparalleled support for your cervical spine which helps to relax the tensions of your neck, neck, your back and shoulders.
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TAKRINK Shiatsu Massage Cushion Back Massager with Heating 8 Nodes 3 Speeds Adjustable with Remote Control Deep Tissue Kneading for Neck Back and Shoulders Gift for Parents Female Christmas Valentine's Day
  • 【Deep Shiatsu Massage】The TAKRINK shiatsu massage cushion contains 8 deep kneading massage nodes that simulate the massage style of a professional masseuse, providing deep tissue massage. Let the massage cushion help relieve sore and tense muscles in your neck, shoulders and back, giving you an unforgettable full body massage.
  • 【Remote Control Back Massager】Unlike other shiatsu massager pillow with built-in control buttons, this remote control shiatsu massager pillow doesn't require you to turn around and click buttons. You can adjust the program with the remote control while massaging, which ensures a more comfortable massage experience.
  • 【Heating Function】The TAKRINK massage cushion can be heated up to 45°, promoting blood circulation and doubling the comfort of the massage experience. When you don't want to heat it, you can turn off the effect by clicking the heating button. With the addition of heating function, shiatsu neck massager doubles the massage effect and is a great choice to relax your muscles.
Neck Hammock with Foldable Stand, Portable Neck Hammock with Compact Assembly for Rest and Relaxation, Relieve Fatigue and Muscles
  • 【EXCELLENT WORKMANSHIP】: This neck hammock equips with an adjustable strap, a cotton cushion, two strong built-in springs and a sturdy foldable stand with the non-slip feet, all of which ensure you have a long time. very pleasant relaxation
  • 【NECK RELIEF】: This neck hammock helps keep your head in a natural position to relax your muscles. Just 15 minutes a day, you will be able to see the difference. Also help you improve bad posture, stiffness and torticollis. Perfect for office workers, students, athletes, drivers, seniors, etc.
  • 【PORTABLE AND CONVENIENT】: This device differs from other hammock necks by its folding and removable support. Thanks to its innovative design and a free bag, you can take it everywhere and find a pleasant place to relax. No need to tie it to the doorknob, and the stand holds up after folding down

Manual therapy

Un physiotherapist or osteopath could resort to massages and mobilizations aimed at relieving tense muscles, and mobilizing the cervico-dorsal region. This can be useful if the bison hump is accompanied by neck pain, headaches, tension in the shoulders, etc.

cervical traction
Source

In addition, after cosmetic surgery, massage sessions will also eliminate postoperative edema and soften the operated tissues.

Posture corrector

Although it will not correct the bison hump as such, a posture corrector (like this one), Or postural t-shirt, will avoid sagging the trunk and rolling up the shoulders. This will allow an indirect postural correction which will help in the long run in the treatment of the bison hump.

posture corrector worn by a man with back pain

Be careful, excessive use of a posture corrector could prove to be more harmful than beneficial in the long term. To benefit from the physiotherapist's advice on the use of these devices, see the following article.

VITT MARKE Posture Corrector Size L/XL, Back Straightener for Men or Women Maintains Straight Back and Spine Support Kyphosis Correction Storage Bag Included Black
  • The Vitt Marke posture corrector is available in size S/M and size L/XL: all sizes, whether small or large, will find the support they are looking for.
  • Soft and breathable fabric, made of high quality microperforated neoprene.
  • Practical and ergonomic, this posture corrector is easy to put on and pleasant to wear. It does not produce pressure on the shoulders and therefore does not leave a mark.

Exercices

here are some exercises to treat a buffalo hump.

Cervical retraction

  1. Sit down keeping your head straight.
  2. Retract the chin horizontally towards you, so as to create a “double chin”. (Avoid tilting your head too much downwards by keeping your gaze horizontal).
  3. Return to the initial position, making sure to avoid throwing your head too far forward.
  4. Repeat ten times, adjusting the range of motion to your comfort.
woman performing cervical retraction

Back extension

  1. Sit down with your head and back straight.
  2. Grab the back of your neck with your hands, keeping your elbows pointing forward (as shown).
  3. In the same movement, bring the elbows up, the back extended and the head backwards.
  4. Slowly return to the initial position.
  5. Repeat ten times, taking breaks as needed.
man performing seated back extension

Scapular retraction

  1. Sit down with your head and back straight. Bring your arms forward.
  2. In the same movement, bring the arms and shoulders back, squeezing the shoulder blades for 3 seconds.
  3. Return to the initial position.
  4. Repeat ten times, taking breaks as needed.
  5. Progression: Add resistance using a therapeutic rubber band.
woman performing seated scapular retraction

Exercise standing up against the wall

Stand with your back to the wall. Try to straighten up as much as possible to touch the wall with the back of your head. Raise your arms by lodging the wall, elbows at shoulder height and hands with the palms forward behind the head.

Floor exercise to get rid of a bison hump

Lie on your back on a gym mat. Place your hands on the floor next to your shoulders, palms facing the ceiling. Try to make sure your forearms are in full contact with the floor. In this position, inhale and slide your arms above your head, and return to the starting position while exhaling.

Work the neck muscles

Also consider stretching and strengthening your neck muscles. Better head support not only treats, but also prevent a buffalo hump.

To claim results quickly, it is important to practice your exercises regularly. Also remember to consult a health professional such as a physiotherapist to help you. He will be able to make the diagnosis and advise you on the right exercises to do to help you undo mass on your upper back.

What about cosmetic surgery?

If less invasive methods fail to remove the bump, it is possible to resort to surgery. The intervention consists of a liposuction (or liposuction). In other words, the cosmetic surgeon sucks out the cluster of fat cells contained in the bison hump using a device. This operation is especially indicated if the mass is particularly large.

liposuction surgery to remove buffalo hump

After a standard preoperative blood test, the surgery normally takes place in the clinic under local anesthesia with sedation. General anesthesia may also be performed in some cases. The objectives of liposuction are:

  • Removing excess fat from the back of the neck
  • Improvement from an aesthetic point of view
  • Improved cervical range of motion (if bison hump restricts movement)

This operation is not dangerous, but could affect the lymphatic channels at the back of the skull. Other complications, although rare, include infection, transient anesthesia or bleeding.

After the operation, the patient will be advised to avoid significant exertion for a period of 4-6 weeks as a precaution. On the other hand, recovery is done indoors within a few days, and post-operative pain is generally minimal. Medication may help control symptoms if needed.

If the bison hump comes from an exaggerated cervico-dorsal kyphosis, on the other hand, the operation is not always indicated. Indeed, the cervico-thoracic spine is surrounded by nerves, blood vessels and spinal cord making any surgery in the area quite tricky. Your doctor will judge whether your case requires a more invasive procedure or not.

What about natural remedies?

Although they are not supported by solid scientific evidence, several natural products and home remedies are used to treat various body pains, especially for their anti-inflammatory power.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of plants and essential oils that are effective in controlling pain and inflammation:

  • Turmeric : Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers very powerful, turmeric is one of the most used plants in a culinary and therapeutic context. The composition of turmeric is essentially made of essential oils, vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C, E, K) and trace elements. But it is to its composition rich in curcumin and curcuminoids that we owe them and calm skin of this spice.
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  • Ginger : In addition to the special flavor it brings to the kitchen and its aphrodisiac properties, ginger is a root well known for its anti-inflammatory powers. THE gingerol gives it its anti-inflammatory action. It is an active component acting on the inflammatory pain related to chronic joint inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, rheumatic diseases, etc. It has been proven that this active element is also effective in acting on the inflammation linked to arthritis and sciatica. Ginger also has other benefits thanks to its high potassium content and its richness in trace elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium) and vitamins (provitamin and vitamin B9).
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  • Omega-3s : Omega-3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a very important role in the functioning of our body. They are provided by food in three natural forms: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Beyond their action on the brain and the cardiovascular system, omega-3s prove very effective against inflammation. Indeed, they have the ability to act on the inflammatory mechanisms in osteoarthritis by slowing down cartilage destruction, thus they reduce the intensity of osteoarthritis pain. Sciatica, being most often linked to an inflammation secondary to a herniated disc, it can also respond to omega-3 provided it is consumed regularly. 

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  • Lemon eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is a plant most often used in the form of herbal tea or essential oil. She would have anti-inflammatory effects which give it the ability to act on the bone and joint pain in general and the pain of sciatica in particular.
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Conclusion

To conclude, you should know that the bison hump is not necessarily dangerous, although it often affects self-image and self-esteem. Fortunately, it is quite possible to treat buffalo hump.

On the one hand, you have the various natural means based on a healthy lifestyle, passive mobilizations and physical exercises. On the other hand, if the size of the mass is quite substantial, you can resort to liposuction. In any case, as soon as you feel discomfort in the neck or other symptoms of a bison hump, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Are you looking for solutions to relieve your pain?

Discover the opinion of our team of health professionals on various products available on the market (posture, sleep, physical pain), as well as our recommendations.

References

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