Our Person of the Month is Dr. P. Novakovic, MD who is a very successful family physician in Arizona. Dr Novakovic represents a new generation of family physicians who practice integrative medicine where many modalities are combined to help patients with chronic somatic and visceral disorders. This why his patients chose him to receive the Patients Choice Award in Arizona for two years in a row.

In his busy clinic, which has two locations in Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona, he actively prescribes medical massage for his patients. He is a vigorous advocate of this modality, and we think that readers will appreciate the opinions of a physician about the application and clinical perspectives for medical massage.

Besides being an exceptional physician, Dr. Novakovic is a very talented composer, poet and musician. He is the author of three CDs of exceptional music. The readers may hear his music and buy the CDs on his website (www.drpedja.com). All proceeds from CD sales are donated to charity.

Dr. Ross Turchaninov, Editor in Chief

Here is our interview with


Petar Novakovic, MD

Petar Novakovic, MD

JMS: How did you get interested in the medical benefits of massage therapy?

Dr. P. Novakovic: I was introduced to massage therapy as part of the curriculum at the School of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Serbia. After I started practicing family medicine in the United States, and opened my first clinic, I sent my patients to regular physical therapy offices. However, I noticed that treatment takes a very long time, and the results of the therapy frequently were disappointing to my patients and for me as their health provider. 

Several years ago my wife was involved in a car accident and suffered from headaches for long time until a friend introduced her to a medical massage practitioner who, in five or six sessions, was able to completely eliminate her headaches. A short time later, my car was also hit by speeding car, and I suffered from cervical pain as a result of whiplash injury. Remembering the quick relief my wife received from medical massage, I contacted the same practitioner who, in short time, was able to eliminate my neck pain and restore my range of motion.

After seeing the clinical results from medical massage, I decided to recommend medical massage as a first treatment option for all my patients with somatic abnormalities. It has now been seven years since I first prescribe medical massage for my patients, and they have been very satisfied since the clinical results are quick and stable.

JMS: What do you understand about the term “medical massage”?

Dr. P. Novakovic: I had received regular massage sessions before I experienced medical massage therapy as a patient. Only during my time as a patient did I realize how much knowledge is required of a medical massage therapist to be clinically successful. It seems that every move counts, and there is always an explanation as to why the practitioner is treating this part of the body or working on this particular level of the soft tissue. Techniques are constantly switched: What was used in the session before is substituted by another technique. It is a very impressive to see and experience as a patient. Personally, I see medical massage as a unique combination of science and art. I don’t think we have a lot of similar combinations left in modern medicine.

JMS: What type of patients do you usually refer to a medical massage practitioner?

Dr. P. Novakovic: Patients I see and diagnose with somatic or neurological pain, I send to the practitioner who works in my office. Usually, this is the first option I recommend to my patients. The patients I have refer to medical massage practitioners suffer from symptoms that range from Tennis Elbow to Lower Back Pain due to the intervertebral disk bulging or even herniation. Of course, there are cases when it is too late for medical massage to help a patient. For example, severe compression of the spinal nerve by the disk or a complete tear of the Rotator Cuff. In these cases, we send patients to a pain clinic or a surgeon but I always recommend seeing a medical massage practitioner first. Generally speaking, medical massage has such a high clinical effectiveness that I still sometimes am surprised at the results even after seven years of actively prescribing it.

JMS: Do you think that medical massage therapy may help your patients with inner-organ abnormalities?

Dr. P. Novakovic: Yes, as a matter of fact we are currently discussing the possibility of medical massage’s application in my clinic for patients with visceral abnormalities. I think we will start with patients who suffer from chronic pulmonary disorders since medical massage has the most impact on the function of pulmonary system. This is what I have learned studying this matter. I am very excited to try and ascertain for myself the clinical data I have read in medical publications.

JMS: Do you have a favorite type of bodywork other than Medical Massage?

Dr. P. Novakovic: I regularly receive Shiatsu type bodywork which helps me to control my level of stress.

JMS: What professional advice you have for our readers?

Dr. P. Novakovic: I am a strong advocate of constant self-improvement. I practice what I preach since I try to keep myself updated with the latest medical science. I am certain this is very important for my patients. This is why I am convinced that professional growth is the key to success. I am not familiar with massage therapy publications but I was glad to become a member of the Journal of Massage Science’s Editorial Board. I think this is an exceptional publication that other health practitioners need to be made aware of.

Category: Person of the Month