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'Dowager's hump' may bode early death

May 21, 2009 |  5:19 pm

YogaTechnically, it's called hyperkyphosis; untechnically, it's called dowager's hump.

Whatever you call the condition -- an excessive forward curve of the upper spine often seen in elderly women -- it appears to be connected to a higher rate of earlier death in those who also have vertebral fractures.

In a study published in the May 19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at UCLA found that the greater the curvature, the higher the risk of death within the study period. This held true regardless of age, the problems caused by the basic spinal osteoporosis or the severity of the  fractures.

Here's the release from UCLA;

the abstract from the journal;

basic information about the condition from;

and a blog, Dowagers Humps, that though not especially active, does appear to target folks looking for practical solutions and support.

As for what women can do to improve their quality of life, a small unrelated pilot study, also from UCLA and published in the American Journal of Public Health a couple of years ago, found that yoga might help produce better posture in women with hyperkyphosis.

Those researchers said such improvements could have included "increased strength and flexibility (attested to by improvements in physical function measures) and heightened attention to alignment (as reflected in women’s diary entries)."

Photo: Yoga seems unlikely to hurt, and it might provide some benefits.

Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times