The Gonstead Chiropractic technique was founded by Dr Clarence Gonstead. He was a chiropractor who practiced for 50 years in the USA until his death in 1978. He taught his technique of chiropractic which is based in engineering principles and is acknowledged as one of the premier techniques in chiropractic today. It is known to be a difficult technique to master and it’s not taught at all chiropractic institutions so only a few chiropractors are truly versed in it.
Dr Gonstead was an engineer long before he became a chiropractor and he applied the principles of engineering to the spine. He developed the system of analysis called the foundation principle. This system works on the principle that that each vertebra is supported by the vertebrae below it and the spine is supported by the pelvis. The pelvis forming the foundation of the spine. Like a building, a small shift in this foundation would have large consequences on the structure of the building. The same applies to the spine.
When a misalignment exists in the pelvis or spine the deviation higher up the spine is usually much greater. These misalignments and stresses in the spine are taken up by the discs that separate each vertebra. The stress on the disc cause the disc to become distorted over time which leads to inflammation, break down and even slipped discs. Distorted discs interfere with the nerve roots that exit at that level of the spine. It can cause either direct pressure on the nerve or create inflammatory changes which can cause chemical irritation at that level. When a misalignment causes interference with the normal nerve flow we call it subluxation.
Dr Gonstead’s system of analysis included a method of taking full spine x-rays so that the spine could be seen as a complete structure. When observing the spine in this way, the areas in the spine which are responsible for any deviation from the norm become a lot easier to see.
The x-rays are analysed using line drawing and taking measurements to know the precise extent of any deviation. This way, an accurate picture is formed as to what the real cause of any misalignment or distortion is. This difference in approach (probably due to his earlier engineering background) sets Gonstead apart from the average chiropractic technique. Gonstead trained chiropractors truly look at the cause of the misalignment and correct it precisely. Identifying and moving the primary subluxation as apposed to a compensation, is also what sets Gonstead apart from many other chiropractic techniques. Adjusting a compensation, unknowingly, means the relief the patient experiences will be short lived or there may be no relief at all.
Dr Gonstead developed an instrument that measures temperature differences between one side of the spine and the other. It can measure a temperature fluctuation of 0.02˚F. Nerves exit on both sides of every vertebrae along the spine. Neuroscope helps to confirm the presence of nerve interference and inflammation and therefore a true subluxation. This way the Gonstead chiropractor can be far more accurate in determining the presence of a primary subluxation as compared to a compensation which to many chiropractors would appear like the same thing.
Gonstead 5 step analysis:
Visualization — Your Gonstead chiropractor is an expert in looking for subtle changes in your posture and movement which could indicate any problems. He will look at things like head carriage, foot flair, posture distortion, etc. All these observations will help him in correlating his findings into a clinical picture.
Instrumentation —The Nervoscope is used in Gonstead and is designed to detect temperature differences between the two sides of the spine at each vertabra. If there is a spike in temperature to one side, it could be indicative of inflammation of a nerve root or pressure on a nerve.
Static Palpation — This is the process of feeling (or palpating) your spine without any movement of the spine. The chiropractor would be feeling for the presence of any swelling, muscle guarding, tenderness or abnormalities to the tissue.
Motion Palpation — Here the doctor feels the spine while the spine is moved through its normal range of motion. The doctor determines if the movement is normal, restricted or even stuck in any of the various angles it is designed to move in.
X-Ray Analysis — X-ray films enable your doctor to visualize the entire structure of your spine. It also shows joint and disc integrity, the alignment of the pelvis and the vertebrae. The x-rays are also read for any pathology abnormalities, possible disease processes or fractures.
Spine radiographs are taken in the standing, weight-bearing position This is crucial when evaluating posture to give an accurate depiction of any distortions which may only be present when the patient is actually bearing weight.