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The Gonstead system of Chiropractic

The Gonstead system is a very methodical and specific protocol created by Dr. Clarence Gonstead in 1923, it is considered the gold standard in the diagnosis of subluxation. The following is the steps of the Gonstead protocol:


1. Detailed history taking

Chiropractors will ask relevant questions to further understand your problem, such as mechanism of your injury, factors that aggravate or relieve your problems etc. Holistically, questions regarding systemic health and past medical history will be asked for chiropractors to better understand your overall health status.


2. Observation and visualization

Chiropractors look at your posture and gait to determine deviation from what is considered normal. This aids in hunting of the subluxation!


3. Instrumentation

In the Gonstead system, nervoscope is considered as an invaluable tool. It is a very sensitive instrument that helps chiropractors to determine where the subluxation is by measuring the difference in skin temperature across both sides of the spine. This difference in temperature is a result of nerve interference. Nervoscope doesn’t just tell chiropractors when and where to adjust, it also tells us when to stop adjusting!


4. Static Palpation

Static palpation is a skill acquired by chiropractors to feel things like tissue swelling (edema), muscle tightness and tenderness around the spine, which serve as clues for chiropractors to better detect subluxation. Static palpation is best done skin-on-skin, this is why patients are required to change into gown.


5. Motion Palpation

Chiropractors are trained to feel the movement of every spinal joint as the lack of joint movement is a big indication of vertebral subluxation. Apart from the location of subluxation, motion palpation also helps chiropractors determine which direction a vertebra has subluxated into.


6. X-ray film analysis

Weight bearing x-ray film of the spine will be taken in 2 directions (frontal and lateral view) for every patients. It is the only way chiropractors can precisely tell how many vertebrae a patient has. This is of utmost importance as normal variation where patient has one more or one less vertebra is not uncommon. Assurance of vertebral count allows chiropractors to be as specific as they could be at delivering the adjustment. Additionally, a full spine X-ray film let chiropractors rule out potential pathologies and fractures, assess the biomechanics of patients’ spine, determine the best way to correct the subluxation (together with motion palpation) etc.