What is Gonstead Chiropractic?

The Gonstead system was developed by Doctor Clarence S. Gonstead, the founder of the Gonstead Clinic of Chiropractic in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. The system was the result of Dr. Gonstead’s 55 years of practice, which involved over four million chiropractic adjustments.

Today, the system is regarded as the most complete and effective methods of biomechanical analysis available for doctors of chiropractic.

Many wonder why the Gonstead system is not used by all chiropractors throughout the world. The reason is quite simple – the techniques require a very high level of mastery. In fact, one can look at the Gonstead system as an art form: every single adjustment requires a significant amount of skill, practice, and dedication.

The Gonstead concept of chiropractic

The Gonstead system focuses on the body’s structural foundation and intervertebral discs. A Gonstead chiropractor primarily considers spinal misalignments, nerve dysfunction, foundational imbalance, and motion disturbances as factors that affect a patient’s chiropractic health. Gonstead adjustments are typically designed to have maximum impact on the discs, helping restore the spine’s natural alignment and movement.

Gonstead chiropractors use in-depth methods to examine and analyze various factors that can effectively uncover characteristics of intervertebral disc lesions, full spine and pelvis alignment, neurological effects of vertebral subluxation and overall health.

Gonstead chiropractors use various examination procedures such as visualization of spinal posture, motion, and gait, static and dynamic palpation of bone structures and tissues, and instrumentation techniques such as para-spinal skin temperature assessment.

Gonstead chiropractors use a more thorough method for spinal analysis, a system far more complex compared to what other chiropractors use.

A Gonstead chiropractor analyzes the spine using five criteria:

Visualization – Gonstead chiropractors use visualization in order to compare and cross reference other findings. They are adept at detecting subtle changes in posture and movement, searching for any nuances that could potentially indicate problems.
Static Palpation – A Gonstead chiropractor knows how to use the process of “feeling” your spine when you’re in a stationary position. They’re able to detect the presence of any swelling, tightness, tenderness, or unusual textures in the back’s tissues or muscles.


XRay Analysis – X-ray films are essential tools which help chiropractors visualize the patient’s entire spinal structure. By analyzing x-ray films, a Gonstead chiropractor is able to evaluate vertebral misalignments, posture, and integrity of the joints and discs. This helps them rule out any recent fractures or pathologies that may potentially be affecting the patient’s current condition. Full-spine radiographs are taken while a patient is in a standing, weight-bearing position in order to fully substantiate the results.



Instrumentation – A Gonstead chiropractor’s instrument of choice is the Nervoscope. This instrument is capable of detecting imbalanced distributions of heat along the spine, which could indicate nerve pressure or inflammation. The Nervoscope is simply guided down the length of a patient’s back during an examination.




Motion Palpation – Gonstead Chiropractors use the process of motion palpation by feeling a patient’s spine while he or she is in motion, or while they’re bending in different angles. This enables them to analyze each segment of the spine, detecting any difficulty as it moves and shifts in various directions.