Gonstead Approach

What to Expect with the Gonstead System

Within the chiropractic profession, there are over a hundred different techniques and/or method of delivering care. Amongst these techniques, Gonstead is one of the most specific hands-on techniques. It is the system that we use to analyze and adjust the spine.

X-Ray Analysis

If medically necessary, we will take a full spine film even if your complaint is specific to only one area of your spine or extremity. This allows the doctor to visualize the entire structure of your spine. Sometimes the area of complaint is not the area where the problem is, but it may be referred pain. We do not take x-rays if you are pregnant.




The instrumentation 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 & Motion Palpation

Static palpation is feeling the vertebral segments by hand to access where there is edema, tenderness, or pain. Motion palpation is feeling each joint to see if there is movement. Every segment of our spine must be able to move independent of one another. A segment that does not move properly will result in pain, tenderness, and/or inflammation (aka subluxation).

Specific Hands-On Adjustment

We only adjust subluxations by hand. Segments that do not need to be adjusted are left alone. For this reason, careful x-ray analysis, instrumentation, and palpation are tools that aid the doctor in determining what segments need to be adjusted by hand. The doctor does not use any modalities or gadgets to adjust the spine. Adjustments are made skin to skin by hand only.

“Find it, Fix it, and Leave it alone.”

- Dr. Clarence Gonstead

Manipulation vs. Adjustment

There is a huge difference between a manipulation and an adjustment. Do you wish to be manipulated? We hope that your answer is, “No.” A manipulation is not specific, rather it is a force applied randomly to the spine. Many times these maneuvers are done through clothing with excessive twisting and rotating of the spine, making it almost impossible to be specific.

An adjustment is a specific force applied to a very specific segment of the spine. The best adjustments are done skin to skin so that the point of contact could be felt with the doctor’s hands with minimal rotation.

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