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The Gonstead Technique

An overview of the Gonstead Technique

Clarence S. Gonstead graduated from the Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1922. He practiced for over 50 years in a small town about 30 miles west of Madison Wisconsin. Over the years he built up a reputation that drew people from several surrounding states. Doctors in these areas wanted to know what Gonstead was doing that made him so successful. They asked him to show them what he was doing that was obviously different than what they were doing.

Dr. Gonstead was using a three-dimensional model for correcting vertebral subluxations. The three components of a subluxation consist of posteriority, lateral bending and axial rotation. The most important component is to correct the posterior misalignment while reducing the lateral wedge and not increasing the rotation. This began the Gonstead seminars which have continued for over 80 years. Gonstead technique is the longest continuously taught technique in chiropractic. At the Palmer college in Davenport Iowa, it is taught as the Palmer Gonstead Technique.

Dr. Gonstead developed specialized equipment for correcting vertebral subluxations. Patient evaluation includes Symptomatology, Static palpation, Motion palpation, Instrumentation (Nervoscope / Tempescope) and x-ray analysis.

Dr. Gonstead finished developing his pelvic technique around 1950. He determined that the sacroiliac joints have diarthrodial movement (top to bottom and side to side motion). Prior to this time, some medical practitioners were of the opinion that the SI joints had no movement and they ran bolts through the ilium and sacrum to immobilize these joints. That practice stopped sometime in the first half of the 20th century.

The Gonstead technique recognizes that there are two aspects to the nervous system – sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system extends from the lower cervical spine through the lumbar spine. In general, it stimulates most body functions. The parasympathetic nervous system surrounds the sympathetic system and includes the upper cervical spine and pelvic area. This system inhibits many body functions. The interplay between these two systems regulates the speeding up and slowing down of the human body. Medical drugs, with the exception of antibiotics, either stimulate or inhibit these systems ie uppers, downers, reds and whites.

There are seven cervical vertebrae, twelve thoracic vertebrae, five lumbar vertebrae, five sacral segments and three coccygeal segments. There are two printed sources that detail the Gonstead technique. One is the Gonstead notes that consists of twenty one chapters in a bound book titled, “Gonstead Chiropractic Science and Art; The Chiropractic


Methodology of Clarence S. Gonstead, D.C” by Roger W. Herbst, and hard bound book is a clinical study titled, “ Textbook of Clinical Chiropractic A Specific BioMechanical Approach” by Greg Plaugher DC.

A classic example of sacral misalignment causing physical symptoms is bed wetting. This problem often involves posterior misalignment of S3. This subluxation can be seen on a lateral lumbosacral x-ray as a widening of the space between S2 and S3. This misalignment can inhibit parasympathetic function resulting in an overactive sympathetic system causing increased urination.

The sacrum can be involved with the lumbosacral joint and the sacroiliac joints. The lumbosacral subluxation is listed as a base posterior sacrum. The adjustment is contracted on the second Sacro segment and the line of drive is posterior to anterior to correct a posterior disc bulge at L5.Another subluxation is associated with a posterior displacement of the sacrum to the ilium. That is termed left or right posterior sacrum. All of the subluxations can have an adverse effect on the parasympathetic nervous system and can be identified by pain, restricted motion and x-ray analysis.


Spinal cord (levels of the spinal cord that gives of each connection to the organs)

Headaches and neck pain articles that were on the old website


Stages of Spinal Degeneration




Phase I


Phase II


Phase III

Do You Have a “Slipped Disc” ? Well, Not Really . . . By Robert J. Steiskal, D.C. When it comes to the spine, the average person’s only interest is with PAIN. Statistics claim that each of us will be disabled with low back pain at least twice in our lives. We may, on average, only miss a couple days work, but many people find back pain to be a lifelong “challenge”. For too long, and too often, the general public has been coerced into thinking that surgery is the only answer for a diagnosis of “slipped disc”. But what is a “slipped disc”? Most people think it is like biting into a tuna sandwich and having all the tuna go out the backside.  Oops! That must be really bad! Then again, you may have been told that your diagnosis is a “bulged disc”, “protruding disc”, “herniated disc”, “degenerating disc”, “Fragmenting disc” or maybe “degenerative disc disease”. How confusing can these disc problems be? VERY CONFUSING! .I have listened to attorneys in court spend hours trying to get orthopedic surgeons to define these terms and agree on the difference between a “herniated disc” and a “frank herniation”. Most medical doctors no longer use the term “slipped disc”. It has been replaced with the various conditions listed above. All of these disc problems are associated with a disruption of the normal spinal function which, when left uncorrected, leads to a progressive degeneration of the disc and the accompanying “osteoarthritis” that is so often mentioned by doctors when they look at your x-rays. The vertebrae of the spine may look like a stack of blocks but the spine is a solid structure separated and cushioned by highly specialized structures called “discs”. Each disc is comprised of two parts; the outer layers of extremely tough fibrous tissue that surrounds the nucleus and holds the vertebrae together; and the inner jello-like center that acts like a hydraulic system and is the main “shock absorber”. These discs or cushions allow flexibility of movement to the spine provide plenty of room for the spinal nerves to exit on both sides. The spinal column is so inseparable that it acts like a solid column of bone. It functions against gravity and enlists the support of the muscles for movement. Interlocking joints on the back portion of each vertebra limit and control that movement. The spine supports an eight to twelve pound head and protects the spinal cord, which is in the continuation of the brain. Without the discs, the vertebrae would grind bone against bone and there would be no flexibility between the head and hips. Due to injury, misuse or degeneration, a disc may herniate (bulge) and press against a spinal nerve. A primary contributing factor to a bulging or protruding disc is what chiropractors call a “spinal subluxation”. The term “subluxation” refers to a change in position of one vertebra on another “spinal misalignment” resulting in trauma to the intervertebral disc. This trauma may be associated with pain and reduced mobility. In the majority of cases, the body resolves the swelling and absorbs (covers up) the deeper damage to the joint/disc mechanism. No noticeable signs of damage occur until years later and may first show up as a decrease in disc space (degeneration) and progress to osteoarthritic damage to the vertebrae. A subluxation is a serious condition to a chiropractor because he recognizes the consequences that follow a series of “insignificant” and “unrelated” episodes of back pain. Most of the conditions that I treat in my office can be traced back to injuries and falls that happened many years before, even as early as childhood, and were left untreated and, for the most part, unrecognized. Chiropractic has been proven to be very successful in treating many cases of disc herniations without the need for surgery. If you are experiencing any of the conditions described in this article and would like to discuss a particular condition with me, just call my office at (909) 986-3636. I will personally review any details with you either by phone or consultation in my office.

Chiropractic for Headache Relief By Robert J. Steiskal, D.C. Estimates show that nine out of every ten Americans suffer from headaches—not a surprising figure in light of the typical American lifestyle. Many people consider a headache a normal occurrence: you pop a few pills, and it usually goes away. If it doesn’t, you double the dose. The problem with this “pill for every ill” approach is that a headache is not normal, and should not be accepted as a normal part of life. When people use drugs to ease their headache pain, they do nothing to eliminate the cause of the pain. They simply mask the symptoms and trick the body into believing that the problem has been corrected. Their actions can be compared to someone disconnecting the fire alarm instead of putting out the fire. They have eliminated the symptom (the alarm) but have not corrected the problem (the fire). A whole generation of Americans has grown up believing that for every pain known to man, there is a “miracle cure” that will make it go away. For headache sufferers, the choices are impressive: tablets, caplets and capsules; regular, extra-strength and maximum-strength. Yet these remedies have one thing in common: they are all drugs. They inhibit the body’s natural recuperative powers, and they can have serious side effects. The National Institue of Health (NIH) states that over 80,000 people are hospitalized each year for over-the-counter reactions. At best, they bring only temporary relief and do nothing to correct the cause of the headache pain. Years of sophisticated advertising campaigns at a cost of millions of dollars per day have convinced many people that over-the-counter headache remedies are both safe and effective. While there are many types of headaches, the two most common are the tension headache and the vascular (migraine) headache, which may occur separately or in a combined (mixed headache) form. TENSION HEADACHES Tension headaches are associated with increased muscular tension, most commonly as a result of stress. The majority of people manifest stress in the muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulder areas, which in turn refers pain to the head. These muscles become tight and develop tender localized areas of constriction and spasm called “trigger points”. The pain on a tension headache is usually a steady, persistent ache with a sensation of tightness throughout the neck and head. Researchers at M.I.T. have identified tiny muscles that are attached to the vertebrae in the upper neck and go up through the Foramen Magnum to attach to the dura (brain covering). VASCULAR HEADACHES The most common vascular headache is the migraine, which results from changes in the blood vessels of the head and neck. Migraines can be triggered by a number of factors (including stress, certain foods, irregular sleeping or eating patterns, and so on). Migraine headaches are usually throbbing in nature, can affect one side of the head or both, and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, and sensitivity to light or noise. CHIROPRACTIC Headaches are a major concern for millions of patients and health care providers alike; but there is an alternative to taking medication . . . modern day scientific chiropractic care. Chiropractic offers an effective, drugless means of preventing, diminishing, and in many cases alleviating these headache syndromes. As a chiropractor, I am interested in the causes of your headaches, not just the symptoms. In most cases, a chiropractic diagnosis will reveal a subluxation of the cervical spine. In other words, a misalignment of two or more vertebrae of the neck region which is causing nerve pressure at the base of the skull. Extensive studies in the United States, in Australia, in Germany and in Canada have all reached the same conclusion: up to 90% of all headaches are caused by these vertebral subluxations. If you are bothered now or have been bothered in the past by recurring headaches, call my office at (909) 986-3636 for an appointment. Don’t wait for the next headache to start before you decide to try chiropractic. I can provide a treatment program that will help.

Innate Intelligence – The Health That You Possess By Robert J. Steiskal, D.C. The health profession that we know as Chiropractic has been around for since 1895. During the first half of the 20th century, thousands of men and women chiropractors went to jail for ‘practicing medicine without a license’ because the medical scientific world of that day could not accept the different concept: Health comes from within. Chiropractic calls this healing ability innate intelligence. Over the last 60 years chiropractic has attempted to align its philosophy with the scientific model by including more and more biological and clinical science classes into its curriculum. Today a chiropractic education provides more basic science to its students than a medical doctor receives for his M.D. degree, but chiropractors have still been criticized as being unscientific. The reason for this alienation from mainstream medicine still has to do with a difference in philosophy. The accepted medical model is based on a fundamental belief (dogma) that all the information starts in the DNA, which is found in the genes of every cell and controls the body. The DNA is thought of as the brain of the cell and we are predestined by the coding contained within those genes. The principals of chiropractic were clearly spelled out in a 1910 textbook written by the founder of chiropractic, D.D. Palmer, and states that an innate intelligence flows through the cells of our body to allow the cells to harmonize with their environment (homeostasis). This original philosophy laid down over 100 years ago is proving to be the most accurate assessment of today’s modern biology. Cutting edge cellular biological research is validating these chiropractic principals and now we know how this innate flow tells the genes (DNA) what proteins to make to bring the necessary responses for all life to exist on earth. Another amazing fact is that this scientific knowledge base is doubling every 3 ½ years. I will attempt to demonstrate some of the exciting discoveries that are responsible for this turn around in the conventional thinking of scientific researchers. 1) Bruce Lipton, PhD. was doing stem cell research at Harvard and Stanford and saw that undifferentiated stem cells were under the control of their environment and not there genes. Stem cells that were kept in a neutral environment (culture) would make more stem cells. If one of these cells was placed in a different culture, it would become a nerve cell. A stem cell placed in another culture would turn into a muscle cell and a third culture type would make a stem cell develop into a bone cell. Through this research he determined that the cell membrane received signals from its environment and sent chemical signals to the cell’s DNA to make proteins to change the cell so that it could become compatible with its surroundings. In simple organisms that are made up of just a few cells, all of the cells are on the outside of the organism and communicate with their environment. In more massive organisms that have cells on the inside there is a need for the outside cells to send information to the inside cells so that they too can react to the outside world. This is why the nervous system forms first out of the came cells that form the skin (ectoderm). Dr. Lipton also explained that our body, which is a community of 50 trillion cells, responds exactly like a single stem cell. The skin receives stimuli from the environment and sends messages via the nervous system to all of the 50 trillion cells to achieve homeostasis (balance/stability). 2) On October 6, 2003, two cellular biologists received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the contributions in cell membrane function. The first researcher was able to describe all the electromagnetic signals, all the chemical membrane responses, and the exact three dimensional structure of the protein necessary for the transport of water into a cell through the cell membrane. The second researcher mapped out the entire pathway for sodium and potassium transport in and out of the cell membrane, including the proteins and their structures to accomplish these tasks. Each man had spent five to seven years of research to achieve these results. These basic vital functions of cell metabolism are all triggered by the external environment and not from within by the cell DNA. The DNA provided the coded information so that the cell could react and stabilize. 3) Henry Winsor, M.D. received permission from the University of Pennsylvania many years ago to perform autopsies on human and cat cadavers to see if there was a relationship between any diseased internal organ and the vertebrae associated with the nerves that went to that organ. He dissected a total of 75 human and 22 cat cadavers. There was nearly a 100% correlation between ‘minor curvatures’ of the spine and diseases of the internal organs. Dr. Winsor’s results were published in The Medical Times and can be found in any medical library. 4) Next I will describe the amazing details of two sets of conjoined twins. Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, they were born in Russia on January 4, 1950, and have four arms and three legs (the third leg is vestigial and protrudes behind them). Their spines are joined at the hips. Each controls one leg and they share a common bladder and reproductive system. They have separate hearts, lungs, and digestive systems which become one at the large intestine. Dasha is prone to colds while Masha has a healthier constitution. They share the same blood, but when one got the measles (childhood virus), the other remained healthy. Microorganisms (germs), by themselves, cannot cause disease. Germs can make you sick only if your body provides them fertile ground in which to grow. If germs in and of themselves caused disease, both girls would have become ill when the virus got into their bloodstream. Research continues to affirm that a nervous system free from stress will promote a healthy immune system. Second, Abigail and Brittany Hensel (Abbey-Britty) are conjoined twins who share a single body and were born in the United States on March 17, 1990. They also have separate heads, nervous systems and spines that join in the lower back to form one pelvis. They have separate hearts, lungs, and digestive systems that become one large intestine. They each control one arm and one leg and have one reproductive system. They also share the same blood supply, just like Masha and Dasha. Britty is on the left and has a weaker immune system. When she is sick, Abbey is healthy. Britty has trouble taking antibiotics so Abbey takes them for her. The medical dogma that germs cause disease is once again, fifty years later, proven false with Abbey-Britty Hensel. 5) Ronald W. Pero, PhD. was doing research at the Sloane Kettering Research Institute in New York and was attempting to study the difference in immune response in healthy versus sick individuals. He took blood samples from all test subjects and performed certain chemical tests to determine their immune response. Dr. Pero found an average response of 20 in the people with known diseases like cancer, etc. In the test group of healthy people, he had an average immune response of about 40. His research project was going well until he was approached by some chiropractors, after one of his lectures and was asked how he knew that his healthy test group was healthy. The chiropractors said that healthy people are those individuals who have been under long term chiropractic care to keep their nervous systems working at their optimum. Since the immune system functions through the nervous system, these long term chiropractic patients have to be healthier than Dr. Pero’s test group. Dr. Pero challenged these chiropractors to send fifty of these ‘healthy’ chiropractic patients to New York and he would test their immune response. I personally know three of these fifty subjects who paid their own way to New York for testing. Dr. Pero found that the average immune response of these chiropractic patients was around 80! This literally ‘blew’ his study and Dr. Pero has had to rethink his view on health. He too had to make the jump to the new thinking on what keeps us healthy and what allows us to become sick. Dr. Pero presented his study in 2004 and verified his original results and published the study. In summary, each and every cell in humans, and in all living things, has all the information it needs stored in its DNA to create the entire organism. This coding is activated in each cell by the stimuli the cell receives through its outside membrane (cell wall). We are not hardwired and genetically predestined by our genes, but are able to respond to the outside world and make the necessary chemical changes to survive. The immune system has an intimate relationship with the nervous system and the endocrine system. Proper care of the spine, which gets damaged as it goes through life, will allow the immune system to function at its optimum and provide the protection that is needed to stay healthy and fight disease. As discussed earlier in this article, current scientific research is validating the chiropractic principles laid down 100 years ago and is challenging the medical model of health. (Newtonian biology vs. Quantum biology) Our office has more information available than I have been able to present in this newsletter. Our office is also available to provide presentations to groups and companies who might be interested in learning more about the future of health care.

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