Q. I just turned 48 and my husband noticed that my upper back is starting to become rounded in appearance. Why is this, and will my posture continue to get worse?
A. Rounded shape or hump in your upper back is called a thoracic kyphosis (ky-fo-sis), a condition with several causes. Just like your size, height, and facial features are a result of your family genetics, your postural attributes including kyphosis can also be a result of genetics. A kyphotic posture can also be caused by using a slouched posture at work for many years. The slouched position can cause muscles of the upper back to weaken, making your rounded posture more noticeable.
The posture you have described is also commonly seen in people with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals faster than they make them. This is more commonly seen in post-menopausal women, though other environmental and medical factors can cause changes in your bones.
As the vertebral bodies of your thoracic spine lose strength, they tend to slowly compress and become wedge-shaped. This causes your upper body to slouch into the characteristic kyphosis posture. Given your age, gender, and posture, it is advisable for you to check with your doctor. Tests are available to determine the health of your bones and whether this is influencing your posture. You may benefit from a supervised physical therapy program of postural training and exercise to help improve your posture.