Acupuncture for Migraine: Immovable and Fixed Migraine Pain that Lasts a Long Time
by Grace Ganel L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., C.Z.B.
Some migraines are stuck in one spot, immovable. You might feel like the migraine will never budge! Patients who experience migraines of this type commonly have an old history of concussion or other head traumas. People who menstruate and have this type of migraine might notice a lot of cramping before their periods. They might also have large and/or numerous menstrual blood clots which are dark in color. I also often observe a purple tinge to these clients’ nail beds. Other bodies might also hurt, and feel better with movement. I treat this patient according to the Chinese medicine root that is common to these symptoms.
What is the root of this type of pain?
This type of migraine is due to stagnation. Stagnation means that things that should be moving are still in the body. In this case, the Blood (capitalized because it refers to the Chinese medical idea rather than the allopathic medicine physiology) and circulation are affected. This can be seen in the clotted menses and purple nail beds. The many symptoms which are better with movement also tell me that stagnation is the root cause.
What causes this to happen?
Some of this background is quite obvious – when we don’t move, things don’t move as well in our bodies. Another big cause of stagnation, and especially Blood stasis, is a traumatic injury history. When our tissues have a traumatic injury, such as a concussion, contusion (bruise), or laceration (cut), blood seeps out of the vessels and into the tissues. Sometimes, the body isn’t so good at re-absorbing that leaked blood. Other times, the damage to the vessels causes very minor obstructions in circulation. Over time, a small defect in the vessels can lead to big symptoms of pain, because “where there is no flow, there is pain!”
Stagnation can also happen when there is a long-standing deficiency of a substance. So if a person has a history of Blood deficiency or Qi deficiency, they can develop conditions of stagnation or stasis. Blood deficiency can present with pale complexion, pale and brittle nails, dry skin and lips, difficulty concentrating and falling asleep, palpitations, scanty or absent periods, and dull temporal headaches. Qi deficiency can present with fatigue, poor digestion, cold limbs, excessive sweating, and frequent urination. The Qi is responsible for moving the Blood, so if Qi is deficient, Blood doesn’t move well, leading to Blood Stasis. When Blood is deficient, even if there is enough Qi to move it, the vessels are like dried up river beds with little pockets of standing water, rather than the rivers they “should” be, so there’s Blood Stasis.
How do Acupuncture and Zero Balancing treat this?
“Where there is flow, there is no pain!”
My goal in cases like this is to restore flow in order to decrease pain. I determine whether the cause of the stasis is fullness (like a trauma causing a build-up in once spot) or deficiency (where there is too little Blood or Qi to allow the Blood to move well). Then, I treat the root accordingly, using points that are known to move Blood, and adding points that build Blood and Qi as needed.
Zero Balancing aims to free up stuck substances in the body so they can be transformed into substances that we can use to fuel our functions. This makes Zero Balancing a great way to promote healthy movement of Blood in cases of Blood Stasis!
What changes can the client make to help treat this?
1) Get moving!
Introducing moderate exercise can really help get things moving in these cases. Going for walks or doing mindful movement practices such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga are great examples.
2) Balance movement with appropriate rest
Rest is very important. This is particularly true when the stagnation is due to depleted resources. Over-exercise can injure the substances and create stagnation, too. It’s essential to balance movement and rest in your daily life.
3) Express your Emotions
Suppressing our emotions creates stagnation. Emotions are Energy in Motion! They want to move, to help us make changes in our situation if they are needed, and they want to be seen and heard by you. Working to acknowledge your emotional state and determine what if any action your emotions are asking you to take is an important way to encourage healthy movement of Qi and Blood. Consider working with a therapist to help you learn how to express, acknowledge, and cope with your emotions.
4) Eat foods that move and build Qi and Blood
Talk with your acupuncturist to determine the best dietary changes, if any, to make in your particular case. With this pattern it’s important to have a good understanding of the root of the pattern before making dietary changes, so please don’t make big changes without taking to your acupuncturist!
5) Acupuncture and Zero Balancing
Click here to schedule with me today! I love helping people with migraines, menstrual health, and emotional concerns.
Learn more about acupuncture for migraines
To learn more about how acupuncture and lifestyle changes can help those with other types of migraines, check out these related blog posts about acupuncture for migraines.