A hump on the upper back between the shoulder blades is an area of fat accumulation on the back of the neck. The medical name of this condition is dorsocervical fat pad.
A hump between the shoulder blades by itself is not a sign of a specific condition. The health care provider must consider this along with other symptoms and test results.
Causes of dorsocervical fat pad include any of the following:
- Certain medicines used to treat HIV/AIDS
- Long-term use of certain glucocorticoid medicines, including prednisone, dexamethasone, and hydrocortisone
- Obesity (usually causes more generalized fat deposition)
- High level of the hormone cortisol (caused by Cushing syndrome)
- Certain genetic disorders that cause unusual fat accumulation
- Madelung disease (multiple symmetrical lipomatosis) often associated with excess alcohol intake
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.
If the hump is caused by a certain medicine, your provider may tell you to stop taking the medicine or change the dosage. DO NOT stop taking the medicine without first talking to your provider.
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 provider if you have an unexplained hump behind the shoulders.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider 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.
Buffalo hump; Dorsocervical fat pad
Tan SH, Tang MBY, Tey HL. Lipodystrophies. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 101.
Tsoukis MA, Mantzoros CS. Lypodystrophy syndromes. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 37.
Review Date 5/13/2021
Updated by: Brent Wisse, MD, Board Certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.