Intervertebral Disc & Food for Thought from Roger Herbst, DC

(From the December 2006 The “G”Note)

The focus of the third annual Meeting of the Minds in October 2006 was the intervertebral disc. Dr. Gonstead stated that this is the foremost structure being affected by the adjustment. He said that the vertebra was merely the osseous lever by which to re-establish optimal position of the internal structures of the disc. Many spine researchers have confirmed Dr. Gonstead’s notion of the primacy of the disc for the maintenance of normal function of the spine.

Probably the most controversial statement made in the Gonstead Disc Model is the concept of the parallel disc. At MoM III, Dr. Roger W. Herbst, author of Gonstead Chiropractic Science and Art, expounded on the parallel disc through examples of x-rays and specimens. He showed examples of lateral x-rays and dissected specimens where there was significant wedging of the disc and corresponding tension and damage of the anular fibers. Must the opposing surfaces of the be parallel for the disc to be normal or in optimal relationship, or is a slight amount of posterior convergence of the plane line of the opposing vertebral body endplates still be in optimal relationship. Researchers state that in the lumbar spine, only an angle of 2° is required at each lumbar disc to create the lumbar curve – a relatively parallel disc. Not mentioned in any paper that I have been able to locate, but advocated by Drs. Gonstead and Herbst, is that the lumbar curve (at least the rest of it) would be accounted for the slightly poster or convergence of the plane lines of the superior and inferior vertebral body endplates, i.e., the vertebral body is slightly taller in the anterior aspect than in the posterior aspect. In my opinion [Editor], a slight amount of “disc wedging” (posterior convergence of the opposing endplates) can be normal in the lumbar spine, if there is no posteriority and if the axes of rotation, the shape of the endplates, the location of the nucleus pulposus, and the structure of the anulus fibosus would dictate it. This “wedging” is unlikely to be normal in the thoracic spine. It is probably not normal in the cervical spine. It is difficult to imagine that any degree of posteriority is normal. It is doubtful that any variation of the structures or axes of rotation would allow posteriority, because of the shear forces that are continually generated by a posterior malposition of a vertebra.

Dr. Herbst made the statement, “fix the slouch and avoid the ouch.” The thoracolumbar spine, T11 to L2, is an area of great interest to him. Symptoms from subluxations in this region may lateral lumbar pain that extends across the sacrum and hips. It may extend to the lateral thigh and lateral knee. It can reduce the upper lumbar curve. This can cause compensatory changes by increasing the angle of the sacrum and increasing the posterior wedge of the L5 disc. With time, the lumbar spine may become kyphotic.

Without correction of a subluxation in the thoracolumbar region, the stage is set for the “posture of old age.” The progression is a tendency to lean forward and stand with the knees flexed. Further progression leads to difficulty walking and the use, first, of a cane, later a walker, and finally an inability to walk and the necessity of a wheelchair.

He states that the “beer belly” appearance is not necessarily the result of abdominal fat as it is seem in thin people. It can also be due to a thoracolumbar subluxation. The body becomes fixed in flexion which leads to prolapse of the abdominals. There is further loss of muscle tone by the nerves compromised by the subluxation.

He said that he heard that many early chiropractors adjusted the T12 region in the knee chest position fairly consistently due to the significant effects of its correction.

Food for thought from Dr. Herbst

“Dr. Gonstead was a great man. He never compromised his vision. He brought chiropractic very far, but there is still so much further it needs to go.”

“When you get an idea, explore it; test it out; develop it; if it pans out, then utilize it. Dr. Gonstead did this continuously, and I feel that we should do it too.”

“Have you ever wondered what Dr. Gonstead would be doing in his office today if he had been in practice for the past 25 years? One thing for sure, he would be doing some things differently here and there. He was always evolving and trying new things. No doubt, he would be more effective, more efficient, and getting even better results than he did 25 years ago. Once we’ve learned and mastered what he taught us, to the best of our ability, it’s up to us to evolve things further.” [Ed: this is a major part of the mission/purpose of GCSS.]

The GCSS thanks Dr. Roger W. Herbst for his excellent talk. Someone who can organize a lifetime of thoughts on clinical practice and turn it into a clear, well-written textbook also put together a brilliant lecture. Personally, every time I read the “Chapters,” I gain better clinical insight. He has an incredible depth of knowledge and an organized thought pattern and is a very humble person. It’s a rare combination of traits. His is a voice that is very important in chiropractic. It is our hope that he will open up some more as he has so much to offer us, the chiropractic profession, and humanity.

A video DVD of the talks is available for a donation to GCSS research. Contact michele@gonstead.com or call 888-556-4277.