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Thompson Chiropractic Technique

Since the inception of chiropractic care in 1895, a variety of techniques have been developed to correct the misalignments and subluxations targeted by this form of hands-on health care. The Thompson chiropractic technique was developed by Dr. J. Clay Thompson and patented in 1955. It has been used to reduce discomfort and support wellness for more than 60 years and remains one of the most popular techniques in the repertoire of modern chiropractors.

doctor feeling and massaging patient's calf

Understanding the Thompson Chiropractic Technique

Chiropractors often combine various chiropractic techniques to diagnose and treat the issues that a patient is struggling with effectively. How can you tell if your chiropractor is utilizing the Thompson technique as part of your treatment plan? You can certainly ask. After all, good communication is an important part of any health care interaction. However, if you feel like playing detective, there are clues that can indicate the use of Thompson technique. If your chiropractor performs a leg length analysis or uses a special drop table, there is a good chance that they are incorporating the Thompson technique in your treatment.

Putting the Foot Forward

When your back or neck hurts, it might seem odd to have the doctor focus on your feet, but there’s a reason why chiropractors using the Thompson technique do it. A neurological imbalance impacts the musculature of the legs, causing one leg to appear shorter than the other. Identifying discrepancies in leg length allows your chiropractor to detect any neurological imbalances and provides valuable insight into what specific adjustments are needed to correct the problem.

Although the process might seem a bit odd, a leg length analysis doesn’t hurt or require any significant effort on the part of the patient. Your chiropractor will ask you to rest face down on the table. Then, they will study the musculature of your legs and feet with your feet both extended and flexed. You may be asked to bend and straighten your legs or turn your head to one side or the other. In many cases, the information that your chiropractor gains from their analysis will be combined with the data that they gathered through X-rays, physical examinations, motion studies, and other tests.

When Being Dropped Is a Good Thing

Normally, the idea of a patient being dropped by a health care professional would elicit frowns. However, the Thompson chiropractic technique uses intentional, carefully controlled drops to assist in the adjustment. They can carry the joint being manipulated through its normal range of motion in a manner that improves its motion with regards to the segments of the spine that are immediately above and below it.

To perform these drops safely, a specially designed table is used. These precision adjusting tables feature movable segments that can be set to facilitate adjustments to the dorsal, lumbar, and pelvic areas. While using the drop-table to correct subluxations and misalignments, the patient is typically asked to rest face down on the table. Then, the chiropractor sets a section of the table so that it will drop slightly when the actual adjustment is made. Although the drop is generally quite small, often totaling just 0.5 inches, it allows the chiropractor to achieve an effective adjustment with a minimum of thrust and torque.

The Benefits of the Thompson Technique

Why is the Thompson technique so widely used? Patients treated with this time-tested technique can see welcome improvements in their posture, flexibility, strength, and function. Many also report experiencing less pain and discomfort and enjoying better sleep.

Finding Inspiration in Imperfection

It’s clear that the Thompson chiropractic technique’s use of carefully coordinated drops is highly effective. However, the idea of dropping a patient strikes many people as decidedly unconventional, so it’s easy to understand why some might wonder what inspired Dr. Thompson to develop his technique. Apparently, Dr. Thompson began his chiropractic career with an office furnished with a used table and a somewhat shaky headpiece that was prone to dropping slightly. When he eventually replaced it with a new table, his patients complained and he noticed a change in the results of his treatment efforts. These observations would lead him to evaluate the usefulness of intentional drops and paved the way for the development of the Thompson technique.


At the heart of chiropractic care is the goal of identifying and correcting misalignments of the musculoskeletal system that interfere with the nervous system’s ability to harness the human body’s natural healing abilities. The Thompson technique, like many other chiropractic techniques, provides chiropractors with a way to detect and treat problematic misalignments to foster healing and promote wellness. Would you benefit from a treatment plan that included the Thompson technique?

To learn more about the advantages of chiropractic care and to discover how this drug-free, nonsurgical form of health care might help you with your personal wellness journey, contact us today to make an appointment. At Loehr Health Center, our doctors are constantly working to refine and expand their abilities with additional advanced training. To discover how we might fit into your wellness journey, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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