The Gonstead Method
If you’ve ever sought out chiropractic care, you more than likely through personal investigation, have heard someone describe their chiropractor as one who uses “that clicky thingy” or “he/she lays me on my back and manipulates my neck.” These are more than likely describing the chiropractic techniques of Activator, Diversified, Palmer package, or even a combination of sorts at times. As often as an individual describes the manner in which they are adjusted or rather “manipulated” how often do you hear them describe how they were analyzed before they were manipulated? If someone were to say “my chiropractor runs an instrument down my back and adjusts me on a kneeler.” They more than likely are describing a chiropractor who utilizes the Gonstead method. The thing about Gonstead, it actually isn’t a technique but rather a system of analysis. Yes, a majority of Gonstead doctors do all use similar equipment and adjust similarly as taught at seminars and university but it isn’t the style of adjusting that provides each patient with such great results. What separates Gonstead doctors from all other techniques is the depth of analysis that each doctor uses in order to provide the most specific adjustment to that patient as an individual, at that moment in time, at that specific segment, on that particular piece of equipment.
The Gonstead system of analysis is separated into 5 individual but equally important categories. They are as follows; Visualization, instrumentation, palpation, spinography (x-ray), and patient symptoms. When every aspect of these analyses are combined into one overall analysis, a doctor is improving his ability to provide a specific adjustment rather than a manipulation for that individual as they present at that moment in time. Visualization is utilized by a Gonstead doctor to analyze a patient’s postural abnormalities such as the heads misalignment from center or rotated favorably to one side, a high shoulder or even accentuated spinal curves. We further analyze visually by assessing an indviduals changes in skin color, edema if present, blemishes on the skin surface such as acne, or even excess hair and blood vessels localized in one particular region. You can see that in only one aspect of the 5 point Gonstead analysis system so many different aspects of an individual’s presentation are taken into consideration.
The second tool utilized is that of an instrument. Most doctors will either utilize what is called a Delta-T or a nervoscope. Different models of the same tool that are used under the same principle; that they detect nerve pressure along an individual’s spine. This instrument is utilized as a dual probe thermometer that when ran along the length of an individual’s spine from skull to tail bone it will take temperature readings from side to side giving an abrupt flick of the meter when scanned over a potential area of concern. At this point the doctor will make a mark and continue his glide, ensuring that every segment of the spine is assessed equally. In many occurrences this mark indicating potential nerve pressure will coincide with irregularities found on the skin as determined from the previous visualization form of analysis.
The next part of the analysis is broken into two distinct parts: static and motion palpation. Gonstead doctors will regularly utilize both static (when the patient is sitting still) and motion palpation (when the doctor is gently moving the patient in order to further conduct his analysis). Static palpation is achieved by the doctor gently scanning the palm of his hand over the patient’s spine feeling for any changes in temperature or even texture and tonicity of the skin. Again, when irregularities such as these are located on a patient, they will usually coincide with what was found as abnormal visually and matching up at the same level as the mark that was made by the doctor when utilizing the instrument to detect nerve pressure. When all of these aspects are found to be localized over an area of potential nerve pressure, motion palpation is utilized to determine which spinal segment is expressing an increased amount of fixation. This motion is then compared to those segments above and below, and then the specific direction of misalignment in which it is fixed is also assessed. It is the motion palpation aspect of this particular analysis that will inform the doctor on how to best apply their adjustment in setting the single segment back into its proper alignment.
Upon completing the analyses mentioned above, the doctor has located 1-3 or potentially 4 segments that warrant an adjustment. The doctor then refers to the x-rays he/she had taken of the patient at the time of their initial visit. The x-ray provides the doctor with an accurate count of vertebral segments for each individual. More often than one would think, an individual either has an extra or one less vertebral segment; there are 3 individuals in my immediate family that have an extra lumbar. It is further utilized to show any spinal abnormalities that may serve as a contraindication to adjusting in a particular area of the spine, or even may show underlying conditions that aren’t visible to the eye, or that are present with no symptomatology. Many times, x-ray has been a useful and unexpected tool in locating and diagnosing many previously unnoticed cases of cancer, infection, and disease.
Finally, after taking into account every piece of information derived from each previous analysis, the doctor will take into consideration the patient’s symptoms. Depending on how many potential subluxations and their locations within the spine, the doctor may decide to adjust them all or solely a single segment. Our nervous system functions cohesively through two subcategories; the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When one system is influenced by a vertebral subluxation, the other expresses itself at an increased or decreased level than it otherwise would be if the two systems were in check. Many symptoms we see today can be expressed from this simple nervous system imbalance. Symptoms such as increased/decreased blood pressure, digestive issues, anxiety, hormonal imbalance and much more. It is the role of the Gonstead chiropractor to utilize the 5 part system of analysis to determine which segment or segments are the cause of such symptoms and to correct them with a specific adjustment so that the body may then heal itself and achieve optimal function.
As you may have noticed, the term adjustment, in this case, has been designated to the care provided by a Gonstead doctor and not the term manipulation - as the term manipulation implies a lack of specificity. A specific adjustment however implies that a singular segment is the primary focus to be adjusted in a specific manner. The Gonstead system is recognized for it’s “specific way of adjusting” but extends much further. The Gonstead system’s foundation rests firmly upon its analysis. Without the specific analysis that each doctor exhibits, the adjustment would not hold the effective and life changing value that Gonstead care is truly known for. Experience the difference of Gonstead and find a specific foundational chiropractor near you.