By Ivy Sellers
Severe neck pain has plagued Wendy Carter since she was 8 years old.
Recent visits to Brazilian muscle massage therapist Jason Souza have changed that.
“I expected temporary relief, but I found lasting relief,” she said. “Because I don”t wake up in pain, I can sleep through the night and sit in my chair at work and at school.”
Carter, a 20-year-old sophomore from Folsom, Calif., majoring in American studies, said Souza emphasizes the importance of stretching morning and night and teaches patients how to listen to and care for their bodies.
Using a technique he developed called muscle re-alignment therapy, Souza has helped several patients find relief from aches and pains similar to Carter”s.
He has been perfecting his technique for more than 24 years, but less than two of these years have been within the United States.
Born With a Gift
Souza said the first time he discovered his talent for re-aligning muscles was on his mission in Portugal.
One of the missionaries had a constant migraine for months and Souza offered to give him a neck massage, hoping to alleviate some of the pain.
“Thirty minutes after, he sat up on the bed and said his headache was gone, that he didn”t feel anything more,” Souza said.
He describes his “magic” fingers as a gift he can”t explain.
“I was born with this,” Souza said.
He said two months into his marriage, his wife had severe pain in her back and again, he was able to give relief.
Souza said after this second experience, he began to study anatomy and also took massage therapy and chiropractic courses.
What he studied only confused him more.
“Every book I try to read to find [out more about] what I do, shows me that what I can do is impossible to do,” he said.
For six years Souza said he treated patients for free because although they felt relief, he couldn”t explain what he was doing and felt guilty charging people for it.
“I know exactly what to do when they come in with pain,” he said. “I know exactly what muscles I need to re-align, depending on the movement that they can or cannot do. But in the beginning, I didn”t know anything. I only know that when I put my hands there, I can treat them.”
Souza said he taught his technique at a university in Brazil and opened a clinic.
He said his clinic in Brazil is still in full swing, and now he has a clinic south of Los Angeles where he commutes every two weeks.
While in Brazil, Souza learned to incorporate all forms of therapeutic treatment into his technique – including shiatsu, zen-shiatsu, do-in, ayurveda and acupressure.
He said because he only works with physical pain, he often refers those going through emotional and psychological issues to other doctors as well, in order to help them find relief in all aspects of their life.
In doing so, Souza has helped people in two nations alleviate pain in their lives.
From Brazil to Utah
Souza and his wife, Deborah, came to Utah in May 2001.
The Souza”s three sons – Daniel, Thiago and Douglas – moved to Provo to attend UVSC five years ago, and he and his wife wanted to be closer to them, he said.
The Souzas purchased a home in Springville, and Jason opened his clinic in Provo.
His clinic has been expanding ever since, thanks to Souza”s knack for pinpointing pain with his fingers alone.
Souza said he started working in California after a visit to a friend led him to a constantly growing supply of patients, willing to pay top dollar for his work.
With his three business practices running smoothly, he said his biggest struggle at times is mastering the English language.
However, Souza said he finds his level of understanding is raised, when he needs it most, such as with his patients and in his calling as a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He said he understands 80 to 90 percent in those circumstances, but when he goes to the movies or watches television, he understands about 40 percent.
“My explanation for this is maybe because I need my English for my job and my calling but not the other stuff,” Souza said.
However, while at work, he said, he still relies mainly on his fingers to guide him in deciphering the needs of his patients.
The “Magic Touch”
Revered by some as having “the magic touch,” Souza has successfully treated an assortment of ailments over the years, including that of Orem resident Ann Spongberg.
Spongberg said she”s had pain in her shoulder since she was a child, and has been diagnosed with a locked shoulder, and more recently, tendonitis.
She said before she went to see Souza, she could only move her arm a foot away from her body – not even as high as her shoulder.
Spongberg said by the end of her first session with Souza, she could almost move her arm over her head. By the fourth, she had more mobility in her arm and shoulder than she”d had in nearly 30 years.
She said she understands the treatments might not help everyone.
“It”s different for everyone, but for me, my muscles were out of whack,” Spongberg said. “I”m a believer now because I got so much relief.”
She isn”t the only one who”s been converted to muscle realignment therapy.
Lehi resident Lila Wayt, 77, has found Souza can work wonders in treating the effects of a stroke she suffered three and a half years ago.
Wayt has muscle spasms, which leave her muscles tight and cause her severe pain when she walks.
After seeing an article in a local newspaper about Souza over a year ago, she was eager to have Souza treat her, because nothing had worked thus far on a continual basis.
“It”s the one place I can go and get rid of the pain, without taking a pain pill,” she said.
Wayt said her treatments with Souza give her the most relief she”s had since the stroke.
She said she found Souza not only hardworking, personable and friendly, but also extremely sincere about helping patients get rid of their pain.
“He”s just a wonderful person,” Wayt said. “I would recommend him to anyone who has muscle pain and needs help because he is the best I have found.”
When Amy Jacobsen, a modern dance instructor at BYU, heard about Souza through a mutual friend, she was intrigued.
Though she had no particular ailment, as a dance instructor on the go, her muscles were constantly sore, she said.
Following treatment, Jacobsen said she noticed a definite difference in her body for the better, and that Souza was able to alleviate ailments she didn”t know she had.
She said she goes in about every six months for an overall body treatment.
“It puts me back in tune with my body and allows everything to line up,” Jacobsen said, “allowing my muscles to work more efficiently.”
She said she has found Souza”s technique to be unique.
“His fingers know where to go and put the muscles back in place,” Jacobsen said.
At $90 per session, some might find the treatments pricey, but she said the cost is comparable to similar types of treatment outside of Provo, which cost anywhere from $90 to $150 an hour.
Jacobsen said Souza”s treatments aren”t cheap but for students who have major injuries, she doesn”t hesitate to send them his way.
“Certain cases tend to lend themselves more to it than others,” she said.
The Pain is Gone
For Carter, the decision of whether to see Souza was clear.
“He can read you,” Carter said. “He knew exactly what my problems were and where they were. During the treatment he worked those problems exactly.”
She said the treatment, although quite painful at times, was definitely worth her while.
“It took two weeks to realign my body and give me relief,” Carter said. “What a difference after five years of other treatments.”
She also said the treatment is different than anything she”s ever experienced.
“It feels like he”s adjusting your muscle, putting your body back into harmony,” Carter said.
She no longer experiences headaches, back or neck pain and can stand on her feet for more than an hour without pain shooting through her knees, as well as get a good night”s sleep, she said.
Though it only took four treatments to feel better than she has in years, Carter said, she plans to return for a tune-up every six months or so.
“I used to overlook the pain because I was so busy,” she said. “Now I realize I don”t have to deal with it any more.”
Souza”s clinic, Therapeutic Massage and Body Wrap, is at 665 N 1890 West in Provo, 801-812-2602.