Buffalo hump

Alternative names 
Hump behind the shoulders

A lump of fat on the back of the neck (cervicodorsal).

A buffalo hump by itself is not a sign of any one, specific condition. It must be considered in light of other symptoms and test results.

Common Causes

  • extended use of some steroids (glucocorticoids such as prednisone, cortisone, and hydrocortisone)  
  • extreme obesity  
  • hypercortisolism (caused by Cushing’s syndrome)  
  • some drugs used for AIDS (reason unclear)  
  • osteoporosis may cause curvature of the spine in the neck (kyphoscoliosis)

Home Care
If a buffalo hump is due to medication, ask your health care provider about your drug. NEVER CHANGE MEDICATION WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.

For extreme obesity, diet and exercise can help you to lose weight.

Call your health care provider if

  • there is an unexplained buffalo hump.

What to expect at your health care provider’s office
The doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical examination.

Medical history questions may include:

  • What medications are you taking?  
  • Are you overweight?  
  • How old are you?  
  • Have you been evaluated for osteoporosis?  
  • What other symptoms do you have?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:

  • blood tests such as blood count and chemistries  
  • CT or MRI scan of the head  
  • CT scan of the abdomen and adrenal glands  
  • endocrine studies such as blood/urinary cortisol and dexamethasone suppression  
  • visual field testing  
  • X-rays of the chest  
  • bone mineral density


Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.