top of page

Immovable and Fixed Pain that Lasts a Long Time

Immovable and Fixed 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 as well as large and/or numerous clots which are dark in color in their menstrual blood. When I examine a patient with this type of migraine pattern, I also often observe a purple tinge to their nail beds. There may also be other locations in the body which are painful, and the pains tend to be better with movement. And you guessed it – all of these symptoms are connected to one Chinese medical root cause, and this patient would be treated accordingly.

This person's nails are more on the pale, Blood deficient, side than the purple, Blood stagnant side... but you get the idea.

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, there is stagnation that influences Blood (capitalized because it refers to the Chinese medical idea rather than the allopathic medicine physiology) and circulation, as seen in the clotted menses and purple nail beds. I can also identify stagnation as the root of the illness because there are many symptoms which are better with movement.

What causes this to happen?

Some of this background is quite obvious – when we don’t move, things don’t move as well in out 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, or 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, difficulty falling asleep, possibly palpitations, scanty periods or periods are absent where they should be present, dull temporal headaches. Qi deficiency can present with fatigue, poor digestion, feeling cold, sweating profusely, frequent urination, and dull pains throughout the body. 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 full (as in the case of the trauma where there is an obstruction to the vessel causing a build-up in that spot) or deficient (as in the case of the deficient Qi or Blood that means the Blood can’t 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 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 Qigong, Tai Chi, and Yoga are great examples.

2) Balance movement with appropriate rest

In cases where the stagnation is connected with deficiency, it’s important to value your rest, too. 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.

If you need a referral for a therapist, check out Sal Schittino in Maryland or Dr. Gail Kalin in Virginia.

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!

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.


1) Smitherman, Burch, Sheikh, and Loder, 2013

2) Goadsby and Sprenger, 2010

3) Allias, DeLorenzo, Quirico, Airola, Toledo, Mana, and Benedetto, 2002

4) Facco, Liguori, Petti, Fauci, Cavallin, and Zanette, 2013

5) Yang, Chang, Liu, Hseih, Hwang, and Chang, 2011

6) Vickers, Rees, Zollman, McCarney, Smith, Ellis, Fisher, and Haslen, 2004


bottom of page