Why Use Gonstead?

The Gonstead Difference

What makes the Gonstead system so different is the detail of the analysis, the specificity of the adjustment and the principles of case management. 

“Classified as full spine, this system deals with the spine anatomically and physiologically, as one highly integrated neuro-musculoskeletal complex. It is based on the concept that changes in one area of the spine, whether functional or organic, can and do produce biomechanical and neurophysical changes in other areas of the spine. Gonstead reasoned that it was necessary to examine the whole spine of a patient and not just the area that hurts. In doing so, he could get to the subluxation (in his view, a vertebral misalignment that results in nerve interference) that was causing dysfunction in other areas of the spine and body.” 1

“The Gonstead system is not a simple method of drawing lines on an x-ray film, adjusting the prescribed areas, and expecting results to follow.”

“Instead, it is a system of meticulously analysing the patient, and on the basis of all information acquired, deciding what corrective steps to take.” 2


The 6 elements of thorough evaluation the Gonstead chiropractor uses in conjunction with any relevant orthopaedic and neurological tests are:

  1. Detailed Heath History.

  2. Visualisation (Structural Analysis).

  3. Instrumentation. A skin temperature differential instrument (commonly referred to as the “Nervoscope”) helps determine the presence of the “subluxation”; monitor the improvement of the subluxation; and differentiate between a “subluxation” and what might be considered a “compensation”.

  4. Static Palpation. For tenderness, oedema, inflammatory changes, muscle tonus and alignment.

  5. Motion Palpation. The Gonstead method of motion palpation is very meticulous. It is used to identify fixation in a potential subluxation and give the chiropractor a specific 3 dimensional listing of misalignment.

  6. Radiographic Analysis. When clinically indicated radiographic analysis is more than just a screening tool for fracture, pathology and congenital (or other) anomaly, Gonstead radiographic analysis provides the chiropractor with very relative and specific information about the care to follow. This information helps the chiropractor differentiate between a true subluxation that needs to be adjusted and a compensatory fixation. It gives the chiropractor a precise 3 dimensional listing for the adjustment that needs to follow, with the exact vector, torque and depth required.

Once the level of subluxation is determined and given a 3 dimensional listing the adjustment can be applied. 

The Gonstead system gives the chiropractor very useful guidelines in effective case management. The guidelines are derived from Dr. Gonstead’s observations through his extensive clinical experience, caring for 500 to 750 patients a week for many years. 

Whilst it takes dedication, perseverance and practice to acquire the knowledge and skills of a Gonstead chiropractor, it gives the practitioner the tools and understanding to best serve the patient. 



Hart C.R. Gonstead Seminar of Chiropractic General Class Notes and Workbook. Gonstead Clinical Studies Society Australia 1999; Introduction 2 1
Herbst, R.W. Gonstead Chiropractic Science and Art. Sci-Chi publications 1980; Preface 2