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Chicago Doctor Treats Back Pain with Martial Arts

Courtesy NBC 5

Patients suffering from back pain often turn to physical therapy for relief. Now, the alternative medicine director at Alexian Brothers hospital, Dr. Patrick Massey, says there's something that works even better.

"His technique comes from the sometimes violent world of martial arts," NBC5's Nesita Kwan reported. "We're not hitting bricks on the forehead or side-kicking doors and that kind of stuff," said Kwan. "Martial arts is about health."

Massey had a black rank before becoming a doctor. He also had back pain which just began to melt away," Massey recalled. Massey began suggesting his program of martial arts to patients and had surprising results. "About 90 percent of those walk out of here pain-free," Massey said about the patients who tried martial arts.

Massey said the carefully chosen moments from Martial arts forms target the specific tissues in the back that are inflamed. The movements increase blood flow to that area. The increased blood flow, in turn, promotes healing and washes away the inflammatory toxins causing the pain.

"We've taken good martial art forms, and we've taken little pieces of those forms, and we have adapted them so that patients who are in pain can do these movements," Massey said.

Two patients, Mary Evans and Lorraine Madia, work out at home every day with the moves they've learned. Every few weeks, they return to Massey to learn new moves. Evan's back pain started when she was in a car accident 26 years ago. Madia's pain started more recently and was caused by repeatedly bending over a jewelry counter at work.

Massey said his treatment may even work with patients who have problems that otherwise would require surgery, such as a slipped disc.