INTERVIEW WITH DR. CHRISTOPHER F. JOHN
What do the letters "D.N.F.T. " stand for?
Dr. John: They stand for Directional Non-Force Technique. I would like to add that this, the associated logo, and several other expressions are now a registered trademarks and servicemarks. They represent a very specific manner of diagnosis and adjusting in chiropractic as well as the seminars through which they are taught. The generic term which is not trademarked, also technically and legally referred to as "common domain," is "non-force technique."
Who originated the technique and when?
Dr. John: Dr. Richard VanRumpt is the originator and began his earliest investigations in 1923 while still a student at the National College of Chiropractic.
He taught this method at seminars throughout the country for almost fifty years. He trained me in 1986 to teach seminars on D.N.F.T. chiropractic, and he passed on in 1987.
Dr. John, what is your chiropractic background, and what got you into D.N.F.T. chiropractic?
Dr. John: I became interested in chiropractic when a headache condition I once had was improved by a local chiropractor.
When I entered Western States Chiropractic College in 1978, I met some upper quarter students who had studied under Dr. VanRumpt. They gave me some D.N.F.T. adjustments, and I was very impressed by results. These adjustments relieved my upper back pain (which had always been exacerbated by surfing!) in a more permanent way than I had previously experienced with conventional methods.
What accounted for the beginnings of the technique, i.e. what gave Dr. VanRumpt the inspiration or direction to proceed with developing it?
Dr. John: While still a student, he discovered that some deep lumbar palpation rendered on a patient provided relief to many symptoms. The notion that a less forceful approach could correct subluxations intrigued him, along with an interest in the phenomenon of changes in leg length.
"Van" had been a professional boxer before entering chiropractic college and became interested in leg measuring from his boxing coach. This coach apparently utilized some rudimentary form of a leg check as a guide to manipulation that he rendered to his boxers.
It took Dr. VanRumpt a number of years of personal research to develop an approach utilizing a leg check and light force adjusting which he felt enough confidence in to teach to others.
What advantages or unique aspects does D.N.F.T. claim to have?
Dr. John: The advantages are many. Less force and the lack of torque and "audible articular sound" are aspects very much appreciated by many patients. More important are the accuracy and specificity of diagnosis of subluxations, and the associated correction. The ability to diagnose subluxations without Xray and having few contraindications for adjusting are other advantages. And finally, the power of the adjustment, the long lasting nature of the correction, and speedy recovery of most patients are advantages important to patients.
How does this technique work without incorporating "force?"
Dr. John: The term "non-force" is slightly inaccurate with respect to how the adjustment actually is rendered. It is, rather, light force or low force in nature.
The efficacy of a low force, low amplitude, high speed impulse is a result of the diagnostic and adjusting accuracy. Simply stated, when you are at the right place at the time thrusting in the right direction, the body accepts the correction totally and permanently.
What do you mean by "permanently?"
Dr. John: We mean that we do not have to repeat this adjustment, again and again, in order for it to hold correction. If the subluxation is corrected properly, including all elements, then one adjustment will do the job!
There is legitimate rationale, however, for preventative maintenance. This is because new subluxation can be incurred from a number of sources. My idea of optimal patient maintenance is one visit every one to four months.
I have heard many different reasons and excuses for why a patient should have to come in so many more times (for maintenance) than this, but I do not agree with them.
Does it incorporate elements of any other techniques?
Dr. John: Absolutely not. D.N.F.T. chiropractic is a 100% VanRumpt discovery and other techniques may appear to resemble or contain elements of it.
There are similar techniques which are included in elective curriculum in our schools. Some are now more well known than the original Directional Non-Force Technique.
I would not berate these techniques for their good fortune in being included in elective curriculum, but I would certainly appreciate a level playing field. There has been more discrimination against D.N.F.T. chiropractic than you can imagine.
I truly believe that if people understood exactly what the Directional Non-Force Technique is, there would not be such a furor over it.
What was VanRumpt's (and your) definition of "subluxation?"
Dr. John: Subluxation in D.N.F.T. philosophy is any misalignment of osseous or soft tissue that is actively producing nerve interference. The key word is producing nerve interference. If a misalignment is visualized on Xray or by some other means, yet is not actively producing nerve interference, it cannot be considered a subluxation according to VanRumpt and me.
What is your method of diagnosing subluxations?
Dr. John: A challenge and D.N.F.T. leg check. The challenge may be "hard" and consist of a light push by a finger, or can be a polarity check by aiming the appropriate finger at a structure in a specific direction.
If the challenge is followed by a leg check within 3 to 5 seconds, and if there is then a pullup of the "reactive leg," then a subluxation and at least one component of its direction have been diagnosed. This pullup of the reactive leg, properly done, is dramatic and is generally 1/2 inch to one full inch.
What is this expression "reactive leg?" Is this similar to the Deerfield leg check?
Dr. John: The reactive leg is a phenomenon which every living human has. The body has the capacity to react to certain things in such a way that the musculature on one side of the body will contract. This contraction, if viewed on a patient in the supine or prone position, will appear as a temporary shortening of one side. It is most dramatic when viewed at the walking surface of the heel. This is not to be confused with a static or functional short leg.
This is also entirely different from the Deerfield, Activator, Nucca, or any other leg measuring system in chiropractic.
How are subluxations corrected?
Dr. John: Through a thumb thrust which is best described as low force, high velocity, low amplitude impulse.
In the case of certain discs in certain directions, we also employ a specially modified 3/8 inch wood dowel with which we can perform a light thrust between the transverse processes toward the center of the intervertebral disc. The disc correction is one of the main features of D.N.F.T. adjusting.
Isn't it necessary to "mobilize joints" to correct subluxations?
Dr. John: Absolutely not! Fixations are set up by the body itself to protect against further damaging effects of nerve interference. If the underlying subluxation is corrected, fixations are automatically released by the body. This fact is little known to chiropractic students throughout the country. We invite any who are interested in conducting scientific research and who would like to investigate this, to contact the President of our newly formed scientific research organization. Dr. Laura Henson would be glad to help develop a protocol for such a study.
Are Xrays used in analysis to determine subluxations in D.N.F.T. chiropractic?
Dr. John: Xrays have a number of legitimate uses in chiropractic, but analyzing subluxations is not one of them. You only analyze distortion and misalignments, and not necessarily subluxations (which produce nerve interference). We utilize the body itself to be the indicator of the location and direction of subluxations.
What rationale is there for continued adjustments? How many visits are typically required to correct a condition?
Dr. John: A very good question which I wish more students and doctors would ask. For me, it is a combination of several things: finding no or little subluxations with the D.N.F.T. analysis, symptom removal or stationary status, negative ortho/neuro tests, and range of motion.
For a simple localized problem such a neck pain or mid-back pain, the problem can often be eliminated with two to five adjustments. For more serious problems, or for the effects of multiple injuries, five to nine visits is my average.
Isn't this much less than we hear about in school and through practice management seminars?
Dr. John: Yes, and when one considers chiropractic ideals from a patient perspective, then is can be seen that D.N.F.T. merits serious consideration by our schools and profession. This has not been done to date for a number of hard to understand and unknown reasons.
Is D.N.F.T. chiropractic taught in chiropractic colleges?
Dr. John: It has been taught as an elective for several years now at the Straight Chiropractic College of Pennsylvania, and the Southern California Chiropractic College. Relicensing seminars have also been sponsored by these two colleges and also Life Chiropractic College West.
Is D.N.F.T. really considered to be "chiropractic?"
Dr. John: If nothing else were remembered from any of my talks, demos, and interviews, I would hope it would be that Directional Non-Force Technique chiropractic is very basic, fundamental, pure chiropractic. Van would quote D. D. Palmer when he said "find the subluxation, fix it, and let the body heal."
Why are there not more practitioners of D.N.F.T. chiropractic?
Dr. John: Teachers and administrators themselves do not know what D.N.F.T. is and either misrepresent it or do not teach it in history and philosophy classes at all.
It is also not offered as an elective except in the schools I have already mentioned.
As Dr. VanRumpt used to write, it is the most misunderstood technique in chiropractic.
Dr. John, what do you see as the future of D.N.F.T. chiropractic?
Dr. John: I see my future as continuing the large workload of teaching Directional Non-Force Technique and educating students and doctors about it, as well as maintaining a private practice in Beverly Hills.
I think the future of Directional Non-Force Technique is hopeful based upon the formation of our Scientific Research organization. The technique has always stood on the merits of its results and love by patients and doctors all over the world. But now the call is out for demonstrable results. We welcome the challenge.
I hope that I encounter more students and doctors in the future that truly care more about pure chiropractic than the peripheral business considerations.
My best wishes to you in your chiropractic career.