The Gonstead Concept of chiropractic begins with a basic biomechanical principle of physics.
Every engineer, architect, builder and carpenter knows the importance of a proper foundation in
constructing a building, for this insures durability and long life. Any slight change or shift
in the foundation can cause a great amount of deviation in the top part of the structure and,
perhaps, ultimately, its collapse.
The body’s foundation is formed by the pelvic girdle. When this bony structure consisting of
hip bones and the lower bones of the back is level, there will be maximum balance and stability
in the spinal column. When the pelvic girdle or any of the vertebrae (bones making up the spinal
column) become tilted or rotated out of their proper position, dramatic changes may occur in the
These misalignments can cause pressure on the discs that separate the vertebrae. (The condition
of the disc is the key to the patient’s health problem in many cases.) Vertebra can become
misaligned either from the cumulative effects of several minor episodes or from a single accident.
Nature frequently is able to cope with these jolts to the spinal column without assistance.
Sometimes, though, vertebrae tilted or rotated out of their normal position can be too much for
nature to deal with effectively.
In order to more fully understand what occurs, we should know that the discs are really pads
between the vertebrae and consist of a spongy substance surrounded by fibers of cartilage. When
there is misalignment of a vertebra, there is uneven pressure on the disc causing it to swell and
protrude. (One often hears this referred to as a slipped, herniated or ruptured disc.)
Chiropractors call this condition a SUBLUXATION when it results in the pinching or compressing
of the nerves that run through that particular area. These compressed nerves often become inflamed
and impede the proper transmission of impulses to the section of the body controlled by these
nerves. A seemingly endless list of ailments and pain may be brought about by these subluxations.
Generally, misaligned vertebrae in the spine are easily recognized, particularly those in the upper
portion of the vertebral column. However, less easily found and often overlooked are misalignments
in the foundation or lower portions of the spine.
The Gonstead System
Gonstead procedures are the result of extensive clinical research by Clarence S.Gonstead,
founder of the world famous Gonstead Clinic of Chiropractic in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin and his
associates. Doctor Gonstead’s fifty-five years of continuous practice and over four million
chiropractic adjustments resulted in the most complete method of biomechanical analysis available
for use by today’s doctors of chiropractic. So why don’t all chiropractors use this technique?
Because the analysis takes more time and mastering the art of delivering a specific adjustment
takes a LOT of practice and dedication.
The Gonstead Chiropractor goes beyond what many chiropractors consider a spinal assessment by
conducting a thorough analysis of your spine using five criteria to detect the presence of the
vertebral subluxation complex.
Visualization – Visualization is a way to cross reference all the other findings.
Your chiropractor is an expert in looking for subtle changes in your posture and movement which
could indicate any problems.
Instrumentation – The instrument of choice in the Gonstead System is the Nervoscope. The Nervoscope
detects uneven distributions of heat along the spine which can be indicative of inflammation and
nerve pressure. This instrument is guided down the length of your back and feels like two fingers
gliding down each side of your spine.
Static Palpation – This is simply the process of feeling (or palpating) your spine in a stationary
(or static) position. Your chiropractor will feel for the presence of swelling (or edema),
tenderness and any abnormal texture or tightness in the muscles and other tissues of your back.
Motion Palpation – This process involves feeling the spine while moving and bending it at various
angles. This enables the chiropractor to determine how easily or difficult each segment in your
spine moves in different directions.
X-Ray Analysis – X-ray films enable your doctor to visualize the entire structure of your spine.
This is helpful in evaluating posture, joint and disc integrity, vertebral misalignments and ruling
out any pathologies, or recent fractures that may be present or contributing to the patient’s
condition. These full-spine radiographs are taken in the standing, weight-bearing position to fully
substantiate the examination findings.
The Gonstead Adjustment
The focus of the Gonstead adjustment is to be as specific, precise and accurate as possible,
addressing only the problem areas (areas of subluxation). Great care is taken to ensure a
bio-mechanically correct position and precise thrust to provide the most accurate and painless
It is the goal of your Gonstead doctor to restore and maintain optimal health by locating and
correcting any interference to the nervous system caused by vertebral subluxation.