A variety of diseases and conditions can cause buffalo hump, including Cushing's disease, obesity, hypercortisolism, hyperinsulinaemia and kyphosis, according to Right Diagnosis. A number of drugs can also cause the problem, including steroids and certain AIDS medications.
Buffalo hump is normally caused by an increase in the hormones glucocorticoids or cortisol in the bloodstream, notes Healthgrades. A spike in cortisol levels is attributed to corticosteroid drugs that treat disease and inflammation. Individuals can determine if cortisol and buffalo hump are linked by watching for symptoms such as heightened blood sugar, acne, irregular thirst, redness or swelling in the face, physical weakness, back pain, high blood pressure and menstrual irregularities. Cushing's disease increases cortisol levels in the blood through a pituitary tumor that affects the adrenal glands.
An adrenal gland problem is another cause of buffalo hump, particularly in the case of adrenal hyperplasia, which is a condition that causes the glands to grow irregularly, explains Healthgrades. Adrenal tumors can cause buffalo hump to form, and adrenal problems caused by Cushing's disease are commonly found in children. Osteoporosis can lead to buffalo hump by thinning the bones, which weakens the skeletal structure. Kyphosis is the condition that causes an abnormal spine curvature, resulting in buffalo hump, according to Right Diagnosis.