Who was Dr. Gonstead?
The History of Clarence S. Gonstead, D.C.
Clarence Gonstead portraitClarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back alley bone setting to an understandable bio-mechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency. In the 1930s, the chiropractic profession was dominated by its iconoclastic leader B. J. Palmer and his Hole-In-One upper cervical specific technique. At that time the technical skills of the typical graduating chiropractor were crude and rudimentary. Gonstead changed that and gave the profession a logical and bio-mechanically sound system for practicing chiropractic. With a gift of solving mechanical problems, he developed his own ideas on subluxations, x-ray, and adjusting bones through the empirical data he gathered from his large practice. Although perhaps not his intent, Gonstead redefined the very nature of chiropractic. With the adoption of the Gonstead technique by Palmer School of Chiropractic in the early 1960s, his technique assisted the profession in restoring chiropractic to its full-spine roots.
The Basic Principles of the Gonstead Method of Chiropractic Analysis
The Gonstead Concept of chiropractic begins with a basic biomechanical principle of physics. Every engineer, architect, builder and carpenter knows the importance of a proper foundation in constructing a building, for this insures durability and long life. Any slight change or shift in the foundation can cause a great amount of deviation in the top part of the structure and, perhaps, ultimately, its collapse.
The body’s foundation is formed by the pelvic girdle. When this bony structure consisting of hip bones and the lower bones of the back is level, there will be maximum balance and stability in the spinal column. When the pelvic girdle or any of the vertebrae (bones making up the spinal column) become tilted or rotated out of their proper position, dramatic changes may occur in the body.
These misalignments can cause pressure on the discs that separate the vertebrae. (The condition of the disc is the key to the patient’s health problem in many cases.) Vertebra can become misaligned either from the cumulative effects of several minor episodes or from a single accident. Nature frequently is able to cope with these jolts to the spinal column without assistance. Sometimes, though, vertebrae tilted or rotated out of their normal position can be too much for nature to deal with effectively.
In order to more fully understand what occurs, we should know that the discs are really pads between the vertebrae and consist of a spongy substance surrounded by fibers of cartilage. When there is misalignment of a vertebra, there is uneven pressure on the disc causing it to swell and protrude. (One often hears this referred to as a slipped, herniated or ruptured disc.)
Chiropractors call this condition a SUBLUXATION when it results in the pinching or compressing of the nerves that run through that particular area. These compressed nerves often become inflamed and impede the proper transmission of impulses to the section of the body controlled by these nerves. A seemingly endless list of ailments and pain may be brought about by these subluxations.
Generally, misaligned vertebrae in the spine are easily recognized, particularly those in the upper portion of the vertebral column. However, less easily found and often overlooked are misalignments in the foundation or lower portions of the spine.
The ability to recognize and correct these misalignments forms an integral part of the Gonstead Concept. For example: When the lower portion of the spinal column has misaligned vertebra, the body tries to keep itself and its skeleton upright and straight. Often it compensates by causing a vertebra above to become misaligned. This is the body’s way of attempting to re-establish the normal perpendicular position of the body.
If just the top misaligned vertebra was adjusted, in cases where additional vertebrae are misaligned, only limited relief could result. This would not be getting to the source of the trouble. For complete and lasting results, all of the misaligned vertebrae must be identified and then a program can be initiated to restore them to their normal position. Every chiropractic case presents a different combination of misaligned vertebrae.