The Thompson technique was introduced by Dr. Clay Thompson who was granted the patent of the drop headpiece in 1955. This then led to the creation of the table with drop pieces for adjusting the lumbar, dorsal, and pelvic area in 1957. Today, there are many manufacturers of drop tables used across the globe. According to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 55.9% of chiropractors utilize the Thompson technique, and could possibly be more as this job analysis of chiropractic has not been performed since 2000.
What is the Thompson Chiropractic Technique?
Thompson technique, also known as drop table, is a full-spine adjusting technique that, like the diversified technique, utilizes high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) along with low-force adjustments using a drop table. The special precision adjusting table known as a drop table has several segments called drop pieces that can be moved so that when the thrust is delivered the table will slightly drop allowing gravity to assist and work in combination with the manual adjustment.
The drop segments help by:
- Assists in the thrust
- Minimizes the force/energy required for the adjustment
- Opens the joint during the adjustment
Although the table segments drop comes to a rest, the patient’s body momentum continues which is also helpful to the Thompson technique because it aids in alignment.
Does the Thompson Technique Work?
Much like other chiropractic techniques out there, the Thompson technique is able to help remedy a multitude of conditions, and has many benefits unique to it.
The benefits of the Thompson technique include:
- Improved posture
- Increased strength
- Improved flexibility
- Improved resistance to injury
- Better able to tolerate stress
- Increased relaxation
- Improved sleep
- Pain relief
- Improved overall health
While there are a multitude of conditions that are helped by the Thompson technique, there are some that are more commonly seen by chiropractors who utilize the Thompson technique.
Most common conditions/groups of people treated with the Thompson technique:
- Pediatrics – many chiropractors use the Thompson technique to adjust patients who are under 18 years old.
- Geriatric patients – being that the Thompson technique uses the drop table to take the brunt of the impact of the adjustment, it is an ideal option for older patients that may be more fragile.
- Pregnant women – since the Thompson technique is a bit lower impact, it is ideal in a delicate situation such as pregnancy. Pregnant women experience less pain and have better functionality after receiving chiropractic treatment.
- Arched neck – those who have an arched neck are prone to experience other pain such as neck pain and chronic back pain.
- Chronic back pain – the Thompson technique is often utilized for chronic pain since it is so gentle.
Overall, the advantage of using the Thompson technique for a spinal manipulation is doing so with less force. As a provider, this allows access to more patients who need treatment who may be either more sensitive anatomically or just simply a little nervous to try chiropractic treatment for the first time. This technique is a gentle, and safe way to help the body heal naturally.
Thompson Technique vs. Other Techniques
The major unique protocol of the Thompson technique is the “Leg Length Analysis”. This is used to determine any differences in the length of the patient’s legs while the patient is lying prone (face down) on the table. The leg length is measured or observed where the heel and shoe come together in the extended position and then flexed to compare them. Any difference in appearance of length is notated.
The analysis is used to detect any neurological imbalances that give the appearance of one leg being longer than the other which helps the chiropractor to determine the nature of the adjustment that needs to be performed. These neurological imbalances, found in the Reticular System of the brain, will affect the musculature of the legs therefore resulting in the appearance of one leg being longer than the other. Once the leg length analysis is performed, this is also a guide for you throughout the adjustment to be sure that the procedure is working. It is important to note that using a protocol of leg length analysis while the patient turns their head is helpful in determining whether the subluxation is in the lower, middle, or upper back.
Other HVLA techniques have similar characteristics to the Thompson technique, but the equipment and additional leg length analysis make this technique truly unique. Although, chiropractic providers that use the Thompson technique consider it to be a low force, high velocity being that it is a light thrust that initiates the drop sections release. Additionally, the Thompson technique protects the patient from being overadjusted, and promotes the clinical durability of the chiropractic provider.
Should I Use the Thompson Technique?
Many chiropractors already utilize the Thompson technique along with others in their practice depending on the patient needs. The unique characteristics of the Thompson technique allow you as the provider to make yourself more readily available to all walks of life that may need a gentler technique such as Thompson. As a chiropractor, it is important to always be open to learn and grow with new techniques to make you and your practice more versatile. There may just be a patient out there who needs exactly what you have to offer if you implement this technique.