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Posted on 10-13-2011

pettibon_technique_200x300.jpgWhat makes the Pettibon technique different from conventional chiropractic treatment or other methods used in the chiropractic world? The Pettibon technique offers comprehensive and active rehabilitation for its patients, based on a program focusing on the spine's hard and soft tissues. What makes the Pettibon system unique is its use of x-rays for both diagnosis and assessment of the progress of treatment.

While Dr. Pettibon was a student at Cleveland Chiropractic College, he found that there was no defined optimum spinal position for use as a control during treatment. During the 60s and 70s, Dr. Pettibon developed a model for the upright and ideal spine, which is used as the frame of reference for diagnosis.

The x-ray procedures assure exact diagnoses, assess progress and monitor whether treatment is effective. Under the Pettibon system, the patient undergoes an initial x-ray examination with seven views of the spine taken routinely and whenever necessary. These x-rays are used to measure impairments and are used to see how the patient responds to chiropractic care under the Pettibon technique. As treatment progresses, the initial x-rays are then compared with the x-rays during treatment in order to see whether improvements are taking shape. The Pettibon system uses seated x-rays, since abnormal spinal forms are difficult to detect until the soft tissues in the spine fall. The soft tissues hold the hard tissues or the vertebrae together, and when these no longer support the hard tissues, the spine buckles into its injured position. The seated x-rays used in the Pettibon method are useful for diagnosis, since there is an increase in stress in the spinal para-vertebral soft tissue. The seated position also eliminates the influence of leg muscle contractions during standing, which can also affect the spine's position.

Another set of characteristics of the Pettibon technique are that its patients are not accepted for treatment by default. Only after a series of tests ensure that the technique can help the patient and a determination of how the chiropractor can provide effective care is the patient accepted for treatment. Such testing is done using the Pettibon system weights and by having the lateral cervical spine re-x-rayed. A chiropractor using the Pettibon system also needs to assess whether the postural muscles are strong enough to respond to care. In addition to the rigorous testing of patient responses before treatment, once a patient is accepted for treatment under the Pettibon system, the patient is expected to play an active role in his or her care. Instead of waiting idly in the waiting room of their chiropractor, patients perform warm-up exercises and stretch their muscles. In addition, the chiropractor trains the patients in home care for faster progress and correction.


[1] http://www.pettiboninstitute.org/ Accessed September 2011

[2] http://www.pettibonsystem.com/ Accessed September 2011

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