Have you noticed a prominence or lump developing in your upper back and wondered what it was, and if you can do anything about it?
A friend of mine last week asked a question. What is this lump on the back of my neck? When I heard the word "lump," I was not hopeful that this was something a physical therapist could help with. A quick examination revealed that his spine was changing shape over time and he was developing a bony prominence where his neck and upper back meet. Why? This often takes place from repeated stress on the area over time. The forward slouched sitting posture so many of us find ourselves throughout the day while we are doing activities such as studying, working on the computer, driving, and reading.
Think about the elderly person with the stooped posture and rounded upper back. This didn't happen over night but was from poor sustained postures that resulted in progressive stiffness and weakness that eventually prevented them from sitting and standing with a straight back and neck. I like to say the body adapts to what we do to it and the spine is like wet cement that is hardening - what position do you want it to stiffen into?
(Disclaimer: Some people with stooped postures (aka excessive kyphosis) have pathological conditions in their spines that lead to these deformities, not simply due to impaired posture).
What can be done about it? My friend wanted answers! He might not be able to change his "lump" that is already there due to bony changes that have already occurred but maybe we can help it from increasing by working on some posture exercises to improve the flexibility of the thoracic and cervical spine and improve the strength of the muscles that hold these positions. Fortunately for him, His condition isn't painful yet. Doing some simple posture exercises can prevent painful conditions from forming in his neck and shoulders and even reduce headaches.
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Comment below for any questions you have for a physical therapist and Liz may answer your question in a future blog post!