What can I do to help my hunched back?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 20, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am 5'9" in height and was born 1937. I had hip joint replacement 2 years ago. Before the surgery, I had strong muscles in my shoulder and chest and my weight was 120 pounds. After the operation all my muscles were gone and my weight is now 90 pounds. I also now hunch quite a lot. I have been eating a lot of healthy food but have seen no improvement in my general health and I still can not build up any muscle. Please advise me how to improve my hunch back. What should I eat and what kind of exercises I should do.

Expert Answers

Laura Beltramo, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics, graduated with honors from the University of California at San Francisco in 2000. She loves her job working as the sole physical therapist at a premier life-care facility in San Francisco. She has written articles and lectured extensively on fall prevention and other issues relevant to the aging experience. As a registered yoga teacher, she teaches yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques to seniors -- helping them expand their repertoire for coping with stress, pain, and illness in the later years.

It sounds unusual that you lost so much weight and muscle mass as a result of the hip replacement surgery. Were there complications to the surgery and did you happen to be sedentary for a long time after as a result? Or is there something else going on medically? Regardless, it would be good to speak with a dietitian about what the best foods are to help you build muscle mass. I would also make sure you tell your physicians of this loss of weight and muscle mass. There are a few simple things you can do to help your hunched back. Whenever you are in a static position over time (like sitting watching TV or sleeping) make sure you are supported in such a way that you aren't encouraging that rounded curvature of your spine. So don't use too many pillows to prop your head up at night, and make sure you have good low back support in your chairs so you can sit with better posture. Exercises that emphasize core strength and stability would also be helpful for you, such as yoga and pilates. It is important for you to stretch your chest/pectoral muscles and to strengthen your back and shoulder girdle muscles. Exercises with the foam roll can be helpful if you can tolerate lying on it lengthwise. If you really are leaning over quite a bit, you may want to consider a cane to help counteract this force of gravity. It would be best to meet with a physical therapist to make these decisions and to review these exercises so you are doing them safely and targeted toward your needs. Best of luck to you.