Our Chiropractic Adjustment Techniques

by Dan Thompson, D.C.

Here at Clear Choice Chiropractic, Dr. Raynel Hunt and I use a variety of different methods depending on each patient and his or her condition.

I list some of them below, and offer an overview of each:

Gonstead Technique

The Gonstead technique is based on the work of Dr. Clarence Gonstead in the 1920s. A graduate of the famous Palmer School of Chiropractic, he explored principles of mechanics to working with the spine.

Here is a summary of his work from the Wikipedia article about him:

“He soon recognized that a number of conditions displayed consistent spinal patterns that violated basic mechanical engineering principles. As these ideas matured, they became known as the Level Foundation principle and the Gonstead Disc Concept.

“The Level Foundation principle states that any deviation of the spine by a particular segment away from vertical straight is an area of potential misalignment; any deviation of the spine by a particular segment that returns the spine to vertical straight is an area of compensation. The Gonstead Disc Concept attempted to redefine the chiropractic term subluxation. The prevailing hypothesis as taught by D.D and B. J. Palmer was that the subluxation was the result of a vertebral bone causing nerve pressure. According to the Gonstead Disc Concept, the vertebral disc, the spongy material between the vertebral bones, is the primary culprit of nerve pressure.

“Along with developing his own unique technique in chiropractic, Dr. Gonstead is recognized for his motto: “Find the subluxation, accept it where you find it, correct it, then leave it alone.” Following the Gonstead Disc Concept, the adjustment’s line-of-drive follows the disc plane line. The result is a distinctive cavitation that characterizes Gonstead style adjustments from more rotational vectored adjustments common with osteopathic manipulation and chiropractic’s Diversified technique. To optimize disc plane line adjusting vectors, Dr. Gonstead had local cabinet makers make his own adjusting tables, later called the Gonstead Set. He also worked with chiropractic table manufacturer Zenith in designing other pieces.  In summary, his method consists of five evaluative criteria (visualization, instrumentation, static palpation, motion palpation, and X-ray analysis.”

We use this method because there are many times when it best serves the healing needs of our patients.

Diversified Technique

The Diversified technique derives from the work of Dr. D.D. Palmer and is taught in most chiropractic colleges across the world. It involves a gentle but quick thrust or other movement of the spine to restore healthy alignment and mobility.

Here is a summary from the Wikipedia article about the Diversified technique:

“Diversified technique (DT) is the most commonly used adjustment technique by chiropractors. Like many chiropractic and osteopathic manipulative techniques, Diversified is characterized by a high velocity low amplitude thrust. Diversified is considered the most generic chiropractic manipulative technique and is differentiated from other techniques in that its objective is to restore proper movement and alignment of spine and joint dysfunction. The diversified technique remains the principal system taught at National University of Health Sciences, New York Chiropractic College, Southern California University of Health Sciences, and Northwestern College of Chiropractic.”

As with other techniques, we use direct, hand-on sensitivity to diagnose our patients’ conditions, as well as X-rays with our digital X-ray technology.

Thompson Technique

The Thompson technique is not based on my name or any member of my family. It is based on the work of Dr. Clay Thompson, who applied his engineering background to the process of adjusting patients’ spines.

Clay Thompson’s technique utilized methods such as moving parts of adjusting tables which drop when pressure is applied, imparting gentle but firm force to precise places on a given patient’s body, especially spinal areas. In addition, the Thompson technique utilizes rebound effects of quick movements, called “toggle recoil”; leg length check analysis, and more.

The Chiropractor Guide offers this summary of the Thompson technique:

“The Thompson technique is another method of adjustment that involves analyzing the length of the legs. This technique uses a ‘drop table’ for adjustment, where a gentle thrust is applied to the joints, which in turn, sets the drop piece into motion and targets the specific joint or tissue. After completing a leg check analysis, your chiropractor will determine the type of misalignment – cervical, pelvic, etc,- and then adjusts the legs using a combination of multiple thrusts on various joints.”

Flexion/Distraction Technique

Here is a nice summary of this technique from Dr. Arn Strasser:

“Flexion-distraction technique has become the most widely used approach to treating symptomatic disc injuries involving back pain and the often-accompanying leg pain. Flexion-distraction involves the use of a specialized table that gently distracts or stretches the spine and which allows the chiropractor to isolate the area of disc involvement while slightly flexing the spine in a pumping rhythm. There is no pain involved in the treatment.”

Active Release Technology

Our Active Release technology works with your soft tissue to help reduce and eliminate pain, increase the range of motion, and gain great function to many parts of the body. It often deals with tight muscles, scar tissue, small muscle tears, and overuse of muscles.

Trigger Point Therapy

When a muscle is injured in a strain or pull (short of a complete tear or rupture) they often get what are called “trigger points.” These are nodules or areas of added sensitivity. When pressure is applied to such a place in an injured muscle, often there will be a reaction elsewhere in the body, which is called referred pain.

We use various kinds of pressure to work with trigger points to help the muscle reach a condition of complete healing, absent the nodules, taunt muscle fibers, or areas of tension so common in partially healed muscles.

In Closing

While these techniques are not all of the methods we use at Clear Choice Chiropractic, they do inform much of the work we do with our patients to help them reach that most natural and health of conditions: being pain free and having their full physical and psychological abilities available.