The Zen Corner

Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic


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How does a Chiropractor know where to fix?

“The right number and right kind of adjustments can set the stage for nature to heal; too many adjustments in the wrong place can undo any good that was done and slow down the healing mechanism…..Chiropractic is not easy. It is a scientific approach. In order to get those things right, they have to be so right. None of us can be too careful. Too many of the chiropractors are unwilling to really study enough to truly understand spinal mechanics.” Dr. Clarence Gonstead

Who is Dr. Gonstead? For those who have not looked at my website, he is nick named as the “miracle man”. He is a Chiropractor that has developed a very detailed and specific adjusting system named after himself. The Gonstead technique is widely known to be very comprehensive and specific technique in analysis and adjustments with less force. He was so busy that he had to build a air strip for people into his small town in Mount Horeb, WI and a hotel to accommodate the clients that came to see him from around the world. After seeing 7 million people in his chiropractic career, he was well known to be a Chiropractor of Chiropractors. Dr. Gonstead passed away in 1978 and left an amazing legacy and many students to keep on his teachings.

Not everyone was fortunate to get see Dr. Gonstead for chiropractic adjustments. Most people who had chiropractic adjustments from chiropractors that did not followed to the level of specificity of technique of Dr. Gonstead had mixed feelings or mixed results after chiropractic adjustments. Some felt nothing changed or worse for that matter.

As you read the quote from Dr. Gonstead in the first paragraph, there are chiropractors that adjust too many and in the wrong place. As a Chiropractor, practicing on each other during Chiropractic school is essential to be a better chiropractor. Also the price of paying with your own spine on getting adjusted on the wrong areas. There was one experience of mine where the student adjusted my spine with a huge cracking noise and he felt the adjustment went well. Although, I had great pain in my low back with radiating pain down my leg for 6 months. So hearing a huge noise does not mean the chiropractic adjustment is the right one, it is the results afterwards that determines if the chiropractic adjustment is right or wrong.

Dr. Gonstead said “…too many chiropractors are adjusting the wrong one!” What is the wrong one is referred to as a compensation of the the real problem called subluxation. Subluxation is the misalignment of the spine causing impingement of the nerve that causes loss of function and healing. Compensation are misalignment that are caused by subluxation and creates symptoms like pain. Compensations are very misleading to people who have them and for people who are correcting subluxation. Many people think the most painful spot is the problem and most often times it is not.

“A vertebra which is misaligned because of a subluxation elsewhere is considered a compensation.” Roger W. Herbst D.C. Gonstead Chiropractic Science & Art

Many chiropractors adjust from 7-10 segments in the spine. Most common reason is that if the segment in the spine is not moving, lets give it motion and then it will feel better. Motion is life! This common philosophy does not distinguish compensation and subluxation. Who has this idea typically adjust everything and anything.  Their thinking might be anything that is misaligned put it back so that the spine is in perfect shape.

Most chiropractors are trying to give everyone the perfect spine. In Gonstead method, we only care about finding subluxation and allowing the person’s spine adapt and heal on their own. Some spines look like a bad scoliosis curvature but it is not the Chiropractor’s job to fix the scoliosis. Once the body is free from subluxations then the starts to change shapes or adapts better to the person’s stress levels. This may change the spine’s shape to more efficient structure to the stress that is put on to the spine.

Dr. Gonstead made sure to be find the right one and re-analyze after he adjusted a spinal segment. Just to check if the adjustment was enough or too much force. Dr. Gonstead was able to determine whether the disc was acute or chronic, the position of the disc herniation, and many more information on the condition of the nervous system. Dr. Gonstead also used radiological films, observed postural changes, skin inflammation analysis, and listened to your symptoms. Then he put all that information together to find the one or two segments that was the subluxation. This gave future generations of chiropractors that followed Dr. Gonstead to reproduce what he was able to do. That was adjust about 7 million people in his life and help very difficult conditions that even medical doctors were not able to help.

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