The Gonstead System of Chiropractic
Dr Clarence S Gonstead developed his system the Gonstead System over many years. He used results and repetition to guide the systems development.
A key principle he put forward and developed was the ‘level foundation’ principle which is paralleled in the engineering industry. It revolves around the fact that the pelvis (Ilium and sacrum) forms a ring structure that supports the spinal column. This ‘foundation’ if unlevel or tilted away from a ‘normal’ position sets the vertebral column into a compensatory deviation. This is to try and return the eyes to a horizontal plane because this is a normal compensation that is required for ambulation and erect posture.
The pelvic girdle consists of the left and right Ilium. They are joined at the front (pubic symphysis) by a flexible joint called a diastasis joint. The rear of both Ilium is separated by the sacrum which is an inverted triangular bone and is joined to each Ilium by a diarthrosis joint called the Sacroiliac joint or SI for short.
The SI joint put simply has an L-shape and the bottom part of the joint allows mostly a pivoting movement where the top part allows a small amount of gliding and has a ridged surface. The whole joint is held together by ligaments. It provides a low friction environment that can withstand a great amount of load. While the motion of this joint was document as early as the mid 1800’s it was not readily accepted until the early 1900’s.
Because the SI joint allows for motion and has a ridged surface held together by strong ligaments any disruption to its position can impede motion. Since it is a ring structure any restriction in normal position will therefore affect the whole pelvic girdle.
The concept of the level foundation suggests that there will be a need to compensate for any restriction or change in the normal position or motion of the pelvis. This compensation can be evident in the opposite SI joint, the pubic symphysis or the vertebral column supported by the pelvic.
With a short leg the pelvis will lean to the short leg side and the compensation for that can be in the pelvis or just the vertebral column. However, the low side SI joint will be loaded differently to the high side.
How it affects the SI joint
How this impacts the SI joint motion is controversial. Some practitioners challenge the idea that the pelvis can be restricted. As a result, views vary and practitioners use diverse approaches to help patients.
Chiropractors have a long history of using ‘spinographs’ (full spine standing X-rays) to confirm any foundational changes. Spinographs reveal corresponding compensations elsewhere in the spine when a distortion is in the pelvis.
It must be said that the motion of the SI joints cannot be assessed by standard X-rays. So Chiropractors compare relative motion of each SI joint to decipher any positional abnormality that corresponds to the motion change. Chiropractors adjust restricted SI joints to return normal positioning and therefore normal motion.
This is a very useful non-invasive approach in the effective care of patients with Sacroiliac dysfunction and other associated symptoms. This systematic assessment of the foundation to the spine is the method used in the Gonstead System of chiropractic.