Here in sunny California our weather permits a year long climate highly suitable for year round outdoor activity. With so many popular activities like surfing at the beaches, riding dirt bikes in the deserts and skiing or biking in the mountains, the level of health amongst the population is greater than most places in the U.S. and people are becoming more conscious about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Chiropractic plays a large role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and people are seeking out their local chiropractors more now than ever before whether it’s to enhance ones performance allowing their body to function at the individuals optimal levels or for treating a specific ailment. With the demand for chiropractic care increasing, more and more chiropractors are establishing clinics throughout the U.S. It is not uncommon especially here in Southern California to drive past three or four clinics travelling from one side of town to the other. The only problem this presents to an individual seeking chiropractic care is which chiropractor to choose.
Most people do not know that there are hundreds of different techniques in the chiropractic community. In school we are all taught the diversified method which is a way of adjusting that combines a variety of different techniques. If a student wants to learn a specific technique they would have to join a club usually getting together at lunch time or after class to practice and discuss the technique they are interested in. Some times the schools offer electives in a specific technique but the choices are pretty far and few between. I chose to study and practice the Gonstead Method. A few of the reasons I chose to practice the Gonstead Method and what separates this technique from others is the specificity of the adjustment, the way the cervical adjust is delivered, the use of full spine x-rays and the uniformity amongst all Gonstead practitioners.
The Gonstead practitioner is highly skilled in locating and correcting the truly misaligned and unstable segments of the spine. The use of hands on palpation, passive and active range of motion, thermography and x-ray allow the doctor to deliver an adjustment in a specific, measurable and deliberate manner. Rather than just making noise or “cracking” a patients back a Gonstead practitioner adjusts with purpose and specificity. Delivering deliberate and specific adjustments assures that the patient is only being adjusted where a misalignment exists and is not creating instabilities in segments of the spine that do not need correction. The specificity also allows the doctor to make changes when necessary if a patient is not responding as expected.
The cervical adjustment done by Gonstead practitioners is very unique to chiropractic. Most other techniques adjust the cervical vertebra in a supine position using an excessive amount of rotation during the adjustment. Though it is still a safe way to adjust the spine in a perfectly healthy person, the rotational component of the adjustment can cause tears in the fibers that hold the intervertebral discs in place. The Gonstead style cervical adjustment is done seated in a weight bearing position giving a more accurate reading of how your spine carries a load during normal daily activities. When the adjustment is delivered the head is rotated only millimeters, just enough to bring the spine back into neutral position and the thrust is from posterior to anterior without any twisting or further rotation preserving the fibers that are protecting the disc. This results in a safer and more effective adjustment.
Full spine x-rays are not common in any medical or health field. Many chiropractors will take multiple views of a specific area generally the neck and low back. Others will forego x-rays all together which in my opinion is ridiculous and bordering the line of malpractice. All patients need to be x-rayed prior to adjusting unless pregnant or a young child. There is so much a simple x-ray can reveal whether it is aiding in the detection of misalignments or observing a hidden pathology otherwise unknown without the films. By using full spine x-rays the Gonstead practitioner is able to view the spine in a weight bearing, functional position providing more accurate measurements of how the spine sits during daily activities. Full spine x-rays also use less radiation than taking multiple spot views, radiation exposure is equivalent to spending approximately two hours in the sun.
The Gonstead method is a chiropractic technique that was developed with specificity and purpose. The tools a Gonstead practitioner uses are designed to locate and correct the truly misaligned, unstable and inflamed areas of the spine only. You will not receive a head to toe “cracking” from a Gonstead practitioner, you will receive a scientific, specific adjustment with a purpose. I encourage any person seeking chiropractic care to look for your local Gonstead practitioner who will provide the necessary adjustments to allow your body to operate at and maintain optimal function.