The Beginner’s guide to Chiropractic (Video)

A chiropractor is a health care professional who specialises in the health and function of the spine and nervous system.

The principles that chiropractic is based on aren’t new. In fact the ancient Greeks and other early civilisations used spinal adjustments as a form of healthcare. These principles were formed into a distinct approach to healthcare in 1895 in America by a man named Daniel David Palmer – D. D. Palmer. He opened a school two years later and the profession began to flourish and gradually spread around the world. There are now approximately 100,000 chiropractors worldwide with over 40 chiropractic schools in 16 countries.

A health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. There is an emphasis on manual techniques, including joint adjustment and/or manipulation with a particular focus on subluxations.

The WHO definition
World Health Organization, Guidelines on Chiropractic, 2005

With the main focus of chiropractic being on the spine, many people think chiropractors can only help with problems such as back pain, neck pain and headaches.

And while it’s true that chiropractors can often help people with pain, there is so much more to chiropractic than just treating pain. Chiropractic care is really about total health and wellbeing. It’s about helping people to feel great, and get the most out of life by functioning at their optimal potential.

What is Gonstead?

Chiropractic began with Daniel D. Palmer giving his first adjustment in September 1895 in Davenport, Iowa. Today, there are many methods used by chiropractors to correct spinal misalignments, joint dysfunctions and subluxation complexes. Many techniques are identified by the name of the person who was most instrumental in their development. One of the most widely utilised techniques is the Gonstead System.1

Dr Gonstead developed his procedures as a result of extensive clinical research in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. These procedures were developed over many years of clinical observation and research to work out how to get sick patients well. Doctor Gonstead’s fifty-five years of continuous practice and over four million chiropractic adjustments resulted in the most complete method of biomechanical analysis available for use by today’s doctors of chiropractic. Many of Dr Gonstead’s clinical approaches, theories and results are now being explained by modern scientific research and studies. Dr Gonstead was asked by other chiropractors to teach them what he did and how he got the results that he did. This lead to the development of the Gonstead Seminar in the mid 1940’s and a systematic approach to explaining the way he practiced and got sick patients well. A full history of the Gonstead Seminar is available at www.gonsteadseminar.com.

The Gonstead System is taught in many Chiropractic schools around the world. In Australasia Gonstead programs are taught at Macquarie University (Sydney) were Dr Andrew Stevenson has been teaching Gonstead since 1999, RMIT (Melbourne) and New Zealand College of Chiropractic (Auckland). The Gonstead Chiropractic Society runs several seminars a year in Australia and New Zealand and conducts regular workshops for Chiropractors and students to further their skill and knowledge of the Gonstead System. The Gonstead Seminar has presented annually in Australia since 1990.

The Gonstead Chiropractor conducts a thorough analysis of your spine using a variety of tools to detect the presence segmental spinal dysfunction known as the vertebral subluxation complex.1

1. Cooperstein R. Gonstead Chiropractic Technique. JChiroMed 2003

Perception of Reality (Video)

Your Brain, Body & Spine (Video)

Symptoms can be the tip of the iceberg (Video)

Chiropractic Care may Prevent Injuries (Video)

We highlight how Chiropractic Care can benefit older adults who tend to favour more traditional medical practice. We take a closer look at a couple of recent studies that indicate Chiropractic care can have a protective role in preserving functional ability.

Chiropractic Care and Older Adults (Video)

We highlight how Chiropractic Care can benefit older adults who tend to favour more traditional medical practice. We take a closer look at a couple of recent studies that indicate Chiropractic care can have a protective role in preserving functional ability.

Chiropractic Care Reduces Falls Risk Factors (Video)

Chiropractic & Posture (Video)

Strength & Endurance (Video)

The Pain Paradox (Video)



Dr Andrew Stevenson

BSc, MChiro, Grad Cert Sp Chiro, ICSSD


I had always been interested in health care and wanted to be involved in the health care profession, helping people to become and remain healthy. I did not know what that profession was but I knew I did not want to be a medical doctor. My journey in Chiropractic began by meeting a Chiropractor at the age of 16. This meeting sparked my interest and I enrolled in Chiropractic at the Sydney College of Chiropractic in 1990. My early influences in Chiropractic lead me to become interested and study the Gonstead System of Chiropractic. This is where I truly learnt the power of a Chiropractic adjustment, in the right place, the right direction and the right time.

After graduating in 1994 I began working in private practices all around Australia doing locum relief work. In 1997 I travelled to the UK and took a permanent position in London for 2 years. In July 2000 I opened The Chiropractor at North Sydney and have built the practice since then. Since 2000 I have been a tutor and lecturer at Macquarie University in the Gonstead technique and I am an active member of the Gonstead Chiropractic Society (Aust). I spent 8 seasons as the club Chiropractor for the Kings’ Old Boy’s Rugby Club and continue to have a keen interest in care of Rugby players at all levels. In 2003 I completed a Graduate Certificate in Sports Chiropractic from RMIT and continue to enjoy taking care of the inner athlete within all of my patients.

I am a firm believer in an active life style and spend much of my spare time coaching junior cricket, surf patrols as a volunteer surf life saver for Killcare Surf Club, swimming training, surfing and competing in Surf Lifesaving carnivals.

I am married to Katherine and have 3 boys, Angus, Lochlan and Ewan.

I am a member of the Following Professional organisations;

  • Gonstead Chiropractic Society (Aust)
  • Chiropractic Association of Australia
  • Gonstead Clinical Studies Society (USA)
  • FICS (International Sports Chiropractic Society)
  • Australian Spinal Research Foundation

Chiropractic Assistant

Sunday Lucia

CA Chiropractic Assistant


I began my journey into health and wellbeing at a very young age. Having been diagnosed with severe allergies as a child, I was propelled into the never ending field of research, seeking answers about health and what true health actually looks and feels like. I knew it was not in the form of a pill or potion but rather supporting the body to do what it was designed to do.

I have been under the care of a Chiropractor since I was born, in my home town of Bellingen, NSW. My mother had witnessed for herself the amazing results of regularly seeing her Chiropractor and put all three of her children into Chiropractic care. At the time I did not make the connection as to why Chiropractic was so beneficial to me but after choosing a career in Classical/Contemporary Ballet it has played a vital role into keeping my body functioning at an optimum level.

After 15 years of being a professional dancer, I decided to make a change and follow another passion of mine, which was to formalise my knowledge regarding health and take up the study of Ayurvedic medicine. I moved to Sydney in 2014 and began my studies at the Australasian Institute of Ayurveda and at the same time began working at The Chiropractor with Andrew Stevenson as his assistant.

Working with Andrew has given me invaluable insight and a deeper understanding about why chiropractic care is so beneficial to the human body. I feel blessed to be studying and working in two fields I am so passionate and keenly interested in.

Other interests of mine include enjoying Mother Nature, fine wines, live theatre, great food and spending quality time with family and friends.


FIRST VISIT – Initial Consultation

On your first visit to the clinic you will be welcomed by the smiling face of Sunday or one of our other fantastic assistants (CA’s) at the front desk. You will then need to fill out some paperwork, which the CA can assist you with if needed.

After the forms have been completed, it is time to meet with your Chiropractor, Dr Andrew or Dr Andrea and explain what has brought you to the clinic, and what you are hoping to achieve. They will then ask a number of other questions to gain a greater understanding of your health concerns. If yours is a chiropractic case, Andrew or Andrea will then take you through a thorough examination to identify any subluxations. The examination will include:

  • Postural Evaluation
  • Skin temperature Differential Instrumentation
  • Static/Motion Palpation
  • Orthopaedic testing
  • Neurological testing
  • Muscle strength/length analysis
  • Specific Chiropractic tests and procedures

Following your examination, x-rays may be required. X-rays are taken for several reasons including:

  • To determine if there is any degeneration
  • To locate potential problem areas
  • To determine the condition of the discs (cushions between each vertebrae)
  • To rule out other pathologies (disease)

Digital X-rays are taken on location to ensure a high standard and the correct images being taken. Andrew or Andrea will view these and if deemed appropriate care may begin immediately.

You need to allow approximately 1 hour for the initial consultation.

If yours is not a chiropractic case we will refer you to the appropriate health care professional.

SECOND VISIT – Report of Findings Visit

The report of findings is done on your second visit after your Chiropractor has reviewed and analysed all the findings from the tests carried out in the initial consultation. This includes:

  • Explaining the cause of your problem
  • Explaining how chiropractic can help
  • Developing a management plan to correct any subluxations found
  • A personalised take-home report folder

If the diagnosis is one that requires further investigation or specialist intervention, we will refer you to an appropriate practitioner.

Management of your condition may include:

  • Specific & gentle Gonstead Chiropractic adjustments
  • Soft-tissue muscle techniques
  • Exercise prescription
  • Rehabilitation advice
  • Nutrition advice
  • Ergonomic advice


Each visit you will be assessed for the presence of subluxations. We never assume you are exactly the same as the previous visit and as such we re-check you each and every visit.

Regular visits will include:

  • Postural Evaluation
  • Skin Temperature Differential
  • Static Palpation
  • Motion Palpation
  • Any other relevant tests and procedures

If a Subluxation is found, a gentle Gonstead adjustment will be delivered to the specific segment. Each adjustment builds on the one before it creating a healing momentum. To get the best results as fast as possible, your chiropractor will personalise a management plan to suit your needs.

Please feel free to ask questions as much as you like throughout this process.

Your progress will be re-assessed on a regular basis.


Can chiropractic help me?

Chiropractic will benefit individuals who are suffering symptoms caused by subluxations. The most common cause of sustaining a subluxation is through physical trauma, however, emotional and chemical influences can also cause subluxations to occur. Physical trauma such as whiplash, falls and incorrect lifting techniques can upset the normal biomechanics of your spine resulting in abnormal nerve function and pain. When these subluxations are detected in your spine and are the cause of your problem, a chiropractic adjustment will benefit your symptoms. However, not all subluxations will cause symptoms and or pain, which is why many of our patients will have periodic appointments to assess the health of their spine, similar to dental check ups.

What is an adjustment and does it hurt?

The adjustment is a quick shallow thrust into the spine or extremity joint which generally does not hurt. It is similar to cracking your own knuckles, except the chiropractic adjustment specifically returns the joint to neutral to restore normal biomechanics or movement to the joint.

When you crack your knuckles this is a manipulation, the adjustment is a very specific form of manipulation that is done for the benefit of the one being adjusted. Just as you would never have the tyre alignment on your car manipulated you would have it adjusted into better alignment.

A great deal of care goes into identifying which segment needs to be adjusted and which direction it needs to be adjustment in. Often there is swelling associated with a subluxation, we recommend people apply ice post adjustment to reduce this swelling and therefore reduce any discomfort that may be experienced following the adjustment.

What should I expect after an adjustment?

The normal response to an adjustment is an improvement in spinal or joint motion. Once the ‘sticky’ joint is working again, there is usually an associated reduction in muscle spasm, swelling and associated symptoms. Initial improvement may only be temporary until the body has had sufficient time to heal. More chronic cases may require several adjustments before improvements are noted. Once sustained improvement is achieved, the frequency of treatment is gradually reduced until the joint has stabilized. A small percentage of patients do experience some post-treatment soreness that will usually resolve within 24-48 hours. Some patients also report feeling worse before improvements become obvious, particularly when the problem has been long standing. If your Chiropractor is not achieving the improvements they expect, they may refer you for a medical opinion or to a more suitable specialist.

How many adjustments will I need?

It is impossible to predict the number of visits any one will need. There are many factors that contribute to how rapidly someone heals: length of time of injury, previous damage, degree of damage, general health, lifestyle choices, whether they continue to aggravate the damaged area. At The Chiropractor at North Sydney and with all Gonstead Chiropractors, the emphasis on treatment is to return the maximum amount of function and symptomatic relief to the patient in the shortest time their bodies healing capacity will allow.

Who should be checked for subluxations?

In short – anyone with a spine! We provide treatment for all ages, from infants to the elderly.

Children’s spines, like adults, are subjected to trauma, in fact children are continually subjected to traumas right from the birth process – going through the birth canal, unsupported head and neck movements, frequent falls, learning to walk. This trauma is transmitted as force to the children’s spines causing subluxations. All children are advised to have a spinal assessment, but healthy spines will not require any adjustments or treatment. Early detection of problems leads to a much better prognosis. We do not x-ray children unless indicated.

Throughout life we sustain injuries causing subluxations from playing sport, car accidents and falls which need to be corrected. Early detection and correction can prevent years of future problems. As people get older they have normally sustained injuries to their spines or extremities from the many physical, chemical or emotional stresses they have sustained. Chiropractic is safe and effective for older people, the adjustment acting to re-lubricate the joints, similar to a grease and oil change for your car.

Therefore everyone and anyone should have their spine checked to assess for subluxations from birth right up until old age. The Gonstead technique is adapted to suit the age and health concerns of all types of patients.

Do I need a referral from my medical doctor to see a chiropractor?

No. You do not need a referral from your GP because Chiropractors are considered primary health care practitioners. However, we do accept Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) Program patients who have a Referral from their GP for Allied Health Services under Medicare.

Can I adjust myself?

Unfortunately, we are not able to adjust ourselves. An adjustment is a specific thrust delivered to a joint that has been prepositioned from the subluxated position, back to neutral, which repositions the vertebra back on top of the disc. The adjustment is not just the popping noise you hear when you pull on your fingers, these noises as we discussed earlier relate to the release of gas from the synovial fluid.

Andrew has his spine regularly checked and adjusted by other Gonstead Chiropractors.

Chiropractic Care - Risks and Benefits

Chiropractic adjustment of the spine has stood the test of time as one of the most effective and safe treatments for neuro-musculoskeletal conditions. Research shows that Chiropractic care is more effective and economical and also gives longer lasting results than other forms of health care. However, as with all health care procedures there is a risk of injury or complication. In nearly all cases of injury, the patient had a pre-existing condition. That is, the patient had a pre-existing pathology, such as bone cancer or osteoporosis or a disc prolapse, and the condition was not correctly diagnosed and an inappropriate technique was performed, putting the patient at risk.
A thorough examination and x-ray series, and a very controlled and specific adjustment are necessary to prevent such injuries.

A specific list of the risks involved:

  1. 1 in 3 patients experience temporary soreness. This is normal, since the body has to become accustomed to the changes occurring in the spine.
  2. Strains and sprains to the soft tissues such as ligaments, muscles or tendons are uncommon.
  3. Injury to the disc between each vertebra is very uncommon. 1:62,000 in low back cases and 1:139,000 in neck cases. In some of these cases nerve compression by the disc can occur, resulting in pain, numbness and muscle weakness.
  4. Bone fracture is rare and has occurred only in cases where the patient has had osteoporosis or bone cancer, and the adjustive technique was inappropriate.
  5. Stroke due to neck adjustment is exceedingly rare, the most recent estimate being between 1:2,000,000 and 1:5,850,000 (To put it into perspective, the risk of getting struck by lightning in Australia is 1:1,500,000). In fact, it is so rare that the latest studies indicate it is most likely coincidence. The force of a neck adjustment upon the arteries supplying the head is about nine times less than the force needed to damage an artery. Furthermore, the forces involved in merely turning your head to check your blind-spot when driving can exceed those of a neck adjustment. However, a rare number of people may have a connective-tissue disorder that can weaken the arteries. Such persons may be at greater risk of injury even when checking blind-spot whilst driving or washing their hair in a basin, than the normal population.

CHIROPRACTIC CARE is considerably safer than usual medical and surgical treatments for benign spinal conditions.

  1. Drugs and surgery are the third biggest cause of death second only to cancer and heart disease.
  2. Neck surgery has a risk of complication in 3-4/100 cases, which leads to death in 4-10/1000.
  3. The risk of complication from using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is 1:25. The risk of death from their use is 1:250 (360 Australians and 3200 Americans die each year due to their use). Chiropractic care has been shown to be 250 times safer than the use of anti-inflammatory drugs for the same conditions.


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