Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is a condition that occurs when the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue in the pelvic region become weak, tight, or otherwise impaired. PFD can cause a wide range of symptoms, including urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction. In some cases, PFD may also be associated with headaches.
Research suggests that there may be a link between PFD and certain types of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines. One theory is that the tension and strain in the pelvic floor muscles can cause tension and strain in other muscles throughout the body, including those in the neck, shoulders, and head.
Additionally, PFD can lead to an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity, which can trigger headaches. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, and an overactive sympathetic nervous system can lead to increased stress and tension throughout the body.
Treating PFD can help to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches in some individuals. Treatment options may include pelvic floor physical therapy, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback. Additionally, treating any underlying conditions that may be contributing to PFD, such as endometriosis or chronic prostatitis, may also be helpful in reducing headaches associated with PFD.
The treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) and associated headaches depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Treatment options may include pelvic floor physical therapy with a focus on relaxation techniques. This would involve exercises and breathwork to relax the pelvic floor muscles with techniques such as deep breathing, stretching, and specific movements. Behavioral modifications can also be beneficial such as sitting for long periods of time or straining during bowel movements or voiding. Simple changes such as standing to take breaks periodically when standing for long periods or getting a stool to elevate feet during bowel movements could help in reducing symptoms.
Working with a pelvic floor physical therapist to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your situation could greatly improve your symptoms and decrease pain. With proper treatment, many individuals with PFD and associated headaches can experience significant improvement!
During pelvic floor physical therapy, a trained therapist will evaluate the strength, flexibility, and coordination of the pelvic floor and surrounding musculature. From that evaluation the therapist will work with you to determine an individualized treatment plan. That may include pelvic floor exercises to improve length, strength and coordination as well as manual therapy techniques that are hands on manipulation to release tension and trigger points in the muscles. Also as mentioned above, relaxation techniques will be used to reduce stress and tension that may exacerbate symptoms. Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and relaxing body positioning can aid in reaching the overall relaxation needed to reduce tension and pain.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a non-invasive, low risk treatment option that can be effective for many individuals with PFD and associated headaches. If you’ve been experiencing frequent headaches and feel you have any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, reach out to one of our pelvic floor physical therapists today! Pelvic floor therapy could be a game changer for you!