The Gonstead examination procedure

Chiropractor explains patient using plastic model

The Gonstead system focuses on specificity, carefully targeting the precise approach to alignment and motion disturbances and selecting which levels to adjust. Compared to other treatments which seemingly use a “cover all bases” approach wherein multiple levels of involvement are adjusted in a single session, the Gonstead system accurately selects levels of involvement to achieve optimum results.

Equipment used

Gonstead adjustments require a variety of different tables for correct positioning. Some of these include:

  • Hi-Lo table – The Hi-Lo table is designed with custom modifications specially made for Dr. Gonstead decades ago. Considered an integral piece of equipment for the Gonstead system of chiropractic, the table is ideal for multiple types of patients, including pregnant women.
  • Knee-chest table – The knee-chest table is specially designed for correcting subluxations and repositioning of intervertebral discs. Similar to the Hi-Lo table, this type of equipment is also ideal for pregnant women.
  • Cervical chair – The cervical chair is a unique piece of equipment used for Gonstead adjustments. It is typically used on cervical spine adjustments, focusing on “lifting” the vertebra as hyperextension misalignment is a common problem for the cervical spine.

The examination procedure

When evaluating a patient’s spine, a Gonstead chiropractor will perform a thorough examination using seven criteria:

  • Collecting medical history – A Gonstead chiropractor will ask several questions about your condition. These questions are required as problems can be attributed to multiple factors including posture, stress injuries, past surgeries, quality of sleep, exercise, medication, and more. Having a detailed history of the patient will help zero-in on the problem and determine the proper solutions.
  • Visualization – A Gonstead chiropractor will monitor the spine, keeping an eye out for any changes in its curves. He or she will assess posture while the patient is walking or sitting, and observe head, shoulder, and hip levels.
  • Instrumentation – To identify any improper nerve control or blood flow, a Gonstead chiropractor uses a nervoscope, which can measure changes in skin temperature. This instrument is used to accurately identify any heat abnormalities in the spine resulting from circulatory changes due to subluxation.
  • Static palpation – A Gonstead chiropractor will use static palpation, a hands-on method that involves feeling the spine, looking for swelling or tenderness in the surrounding tissues.
  • Motion palpation – Movement in each individual joint of the spine will be checked by your chiropractor. Joints will be subjected to three axes of normal movement to identify any problems with motion. Any reduced movement detected between segments will be helpful in locating any subluxation.
  • Neurological test – Chiropractic treatment involves the nervous system and its functions, so a chiropractor will conduct examinations which test balance, vision, eye movement, hearing, smell, and so on.
  • X-ray analysis – An initial frontal x-ray will be taken to identify the exact number of vertebrae a patient has. Second and third x-rays will be taken to assess the neck and lower back areas. Since specificity is prioritized in the Gonstead approach, x-rays provide integral information that will help chiropractors avoid adjusting wrong segments.