First off, the role of a chiropractor is to detect and correct spinal misalignments, these are called subluxations.
Dr. Clarence Gonstead developed a system of how to systematically detect and correct these subluxations. With his system, he was able to help patients with a variety of health conditions, where other medical and chiropractic methods routinely came up short.
These steps involve being able to see and examine the surface of the patient’s spine.
As you can imagine, this would be very difficult to accomplish through layers of clothing, this would be like going to a foot doctor and having them analyze your foot through your shoe!
This is one of the reasons that a Gonstead clinic is setup in such a way that the doctor is able to assess the patient with a “skin on skin” approach. This involves a comfortable customized gown that opens in the back to enable the doctor to see the surface of the spine.
Now the second thing that makes this technique so different, is the adjustment.
Now, while some chiropractors talk about a spinal “manipulation”, a Gonstead doctor takes great care to perform a specific segmental adjustment.
The adjustment involves a close attention to detail with the aim being to isolate the specific joint in question, and then deliver the appropriate amount of force (controlled thrust) into that joint with an exact vector that is in the opposite direction as to how it has misaligned. The Gonstead adjustment involves little to no rotation or twisting, making this an extremely safe, comfortable, and effective adjustment. Many patients report that they feel that a Gonstead adjustment provides them more relief and benefit because it feels to be a “deeper” setting.
The Gonstead System is a system of analysis AND adjusting. It is a two-step process. An examination and spinal analysis must always be performed before adjusting the spine. We tell our patients that part of the purpose of their appointment is to have their spine checked to see if they need to be adjusted- this is KEY. If you don’t fully understand the problem, how can you fix it?
This system of analysis uses the following tools:
- Static Palpation
- Motion Palpation
- X-ray analysis
While today there are thousands of Gonstead Chiropractors throughout the world, it is important to note, that throughout the entire Chiropractic profession, practitioners that practice the complete Gonstead System make up fewer than 5% of the total.
A complete utilization of the Gonstead System means that the doctor follows all of the steps mentioned above.
Please note, that simply attending a few Gonstead seminars or taking a semester of this technique while in Chiropractic College certainly does not make one an expert.
One of the most prestigious certifications that a chiropractor can earn is The Gonstead Diplomate. This shows that they have demonstrated their clinical competency and have completed rigorous training to become proficient in this method.
Identifying the exact vertebrae in question is key in the Gonstead Method.
There are only a handful of Gonstead Chiropractors in the entire state of Idaho, and Dr. Todd Pickman is currently the only Gonstead Diplomate in the state.
Dr. Todd demonstrating the exact hand placement and contact for a specific seated lower cervical (neck) adjustment.