Basics of the Gonstead Chiropractic Approach to the Cervical Spine

Basics of the Gonstead Chiropractic
Approach to the Cervical Spine


The neck?  I’m glad you asked.

The neck, the section referred to anatomically as the cervical spine, has unique features.  

It has the highest demand for total amounts of movement.  It is also the least structurally massive of any area of the spine, being smaller and more narrow than other areas.  It also contains the highest amounts of neurology of any area of the spine.

Some key details - the most mobile part of the spine is the middle of the neck.  Also, a casual survey of chiropractors websites will show a large number of photos of people having this particular area addressed, typically laying on the back, receiving a rotation-based adjustment.

It is very important to note that individual clinical decisions should be based on the individual findings of each individual patient.  

However, this is a discussion of basic principles on the subject which are worth understanding.  

Gonstead-style chiropractic care typically focuses on relatively minimal rotation forces with respect to the delivery of the adjustment.  The Gonstead system of chiropractic focuses on the intervertebral disc. Because of this, generally the line of correction of adjustments is most commonly aimed to be delivered towards the midline of the body, rather than a rotational movement.

In fact, when we look at cervical spine itself, the most important vector of misalignment in many of these cases is the flexion/extension relationship.  In other words, think about gently looking upwards and downwards, that is the movement involved that is most disturbed in that situation.

And, if one has examined any details of the Gonstead analysis, this is one of the relevant facts assessed when choosing where to adjust.  Ie, the loss of the normal flexion/extension relationship of one spinal bone to the next.

Dr. Gonstead was recorded as describing this exact situation.  Namely, that his strong belief was that clinically the correction of the cervical spine was something to be carried out with the patient seated, or potentially in a face-down position.  As opposed to a position of face-upwards, referred to in technical terms as the supine position.

With the proliferation of technology, especially mobile technology, as well as motor vehicle and other collisions, the neck and upper back (the upper thoracic spine) are regularly stressed and traumatized.  Understanding the details involved in addressing these types of problems is worthwhile when examining their overall health and the importance of their healthy function.

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