Hi Dawn: Usually a dowagers hump or spinal curve is caused by compression fractures of the spinal vertebra. Wedge type fractures cause very little pain and usually go undiagnosed until you have an x-ray or ct scan/mri that showes a recent or healed over fracture. There are other types of fractures that cause pain, so if you have new pain in the area of the curvature have it checked. Also, a loss in height along with the curve signals a compression fracture.
There are 2 types of surgeries that are done out patient that can restore the height to the vertebra and eliminate the pain. One is vertebroplasty and the other is kyphoplasty. Neuro/ortho surgeons and radiologists usually do this type of procedure which will also restore some lost height. Also if you have a fracture it can cause problems with your lungs and abdomen. When the spine curves forward from a fracture or other type of spinal problem it can compromise the expansion of the lungs and make it difficult to breathe, or cause your abdomen to push forward.
Aside from the spinal curve, pain, lung and loss of height-usually more than 1.5 inches-these are the only symptoms I can think of.
If you have any of these have your dr check it out, asap.