The Gonstead Chiropractic technique originated with Dr. Clarence Gonstead in the small farming community of Mt. Horeb, WI. At a time when Chiropractic was growing to become the largest drug free health care delivery system in the world, Dr. Gonstead was achieving exemplary results, developing far reaching insights into how the spine and nervous system worked, and how to best achieve the restoration of health for his patients. His results are what lead other doctors to pursue advanced studies with him, and to document the process of examination, decision, and precise adjustment to mimic his results.
The Gonstead system involves a variety of tools and techniques to evaluate and adjust spinal involvements (called Subluxations) in a gentle and precise manner.
Visualization is the first step, observing areas of postural imbalances, taught muscle fibers, localized and sometimes more global swelling, or skin changes that might indicate an area of concern.
Instrumentation using a tool known as a Nervoscope. Essentially two heat sensitive probes that glide lightly down either side of the spine, this tool compares skin temperature on one side of the spine to that on the other. Dr. Gonstead realized that the ability of the capillaries (which are the smallest blood vessels) to dilate to the skin was controlled by the nervous system. He recognized that when the spinal vertebrae was putting pressure on the nerve, the capillary dilation would be different from side to side, and could be used to further isolate areas of concern.
Static palpation, or using one’s hand to detect difference in skin tone, temperature, muscle tension, or stationary alignment of the bony structures of the spine is a further resource to isolate the problem. Certain elements, such as tissue bogginess around a specific spinal segment, can be a strong indicator of involvement, since the irritated joint will cause a localized inflammatory response, but fixation, or the restricted motion of the injured joint, will impair the ability of the excess fluids to be pumped back to the lymphatic system.
Motion palpation is used to confirm restriction of motion between the specific segments of concern, and as an indicator of more global effects to the surrounding muscles and tissues. While global limitations of motion can be dramatic, such as not being turn your head or bend to touch your toes, the key is discerning the specific cause of the problem so that it can be corrected, and optimum health restored.
X-ray analysis is used to confirm the underlying structure behind the impaired function. Using the old adage that to see is to know, x-ray analysis is the last big piece of the puzzle that brings all the information together to allow the specific correction of a specific problem. Specific adjustment of the involved segments using a gentle, hands on technique to set the segment back toward proper motion on its disc. The Gonstead technique of adjusting differs from other techniques in that it seeks to move the individual segment gently, using the sensitivity of the doctors hands, the conscious visualization of the direction of misalignment, and the delivery of the adjustment without stressing the associated soft tissues. Care is taken to adjust the involved segment from its neutral posture, rather than taking it to tension and forcing it further, resulting in a correction that is both gentle, and specific.