What is buffalo hump?

Buffalo hump refers to an unsightly lump of fat that develops at the top of the back between the shoulders. It can arise from a variety of conditions that are characterized by an increase in cortisol or glucocorticoid (hormones produced by the adrenal gland) levels in the bloodstream. The most common cause of elevated cortisol levels is the use of oral corticosteroid drugs, which are prescribed to treat different conditions, including inflammatory diseases.

Elevated cortisol levels can also occur when the body produces too much cortisol. The medical term for this condition is Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s disease is a specific form of Cushing’s syndrome in which a pituitary tumor produces elevated levels of a hormone that directs the adrenal glands to synthesize cortisol.

In some cases, buffalo hump may occur with osteoporosis, which is characterized by thinning and weakening of the bones.

Buffalo hump on its own does not cause serious side effects, but it may result from a serious disorder such as a tumor of the pituitary or adrenal glands. Treatment for buffalo hump may not be necessary in itself unless the underlying reason for the buffalo hump is a disease that requires treatment. In this case, treatment is dependent on the cause and may include changes in diet or exercise, surgical treatment of underlying tumors, or hormonal therapy.

Buffalo hump may be a sign of a serious condition that causes your body to produce too much of the hormone cortisol. If you develop an unexplained hump behind your shoulders, seek prompt medical care.

If your buffalo hump is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with buffalo hump?

Buffalo hump may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Endocrine symptoms that may occur along with buffalo hump

Buffalo hump may be accompanied by other symptoms indicative of excess cortisol including:

  • Acne
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What causes buffalo hump?

Buffalo hump may arise for a variety of reasons, but it commonly occurs as a result of hormone imbalance or excessive fat accumulation. Hormone imbalance can result from high dosages of certain medications, such as steroids, or from endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by abnormal processes inside the body, such as when the adrenal glands produce too... Read more about buffalo humpcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles, Osteoporosis

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