A Short History of Chiropractic

What Is Chiropractic?

The theory behind chiropractic supposes that proper alignment of the spine and the body’s musculoskeletal structure in general, leads to self-healing of the body without surgery or medication. Therefore, chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments. Chiropractic is mainly applied as a pain relief alternative for muscles, joints, and bones; but also for connective tissue, such as cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
Meaning of the Word “Chiropractic”

The term chiropractic means “done by hand” – the Greek words “cheir” and “praktos” are translated in English as “hand” and “done”. The name was chosen by Daniel David Palmer, who is considered the founder of chiropractic. The history of chiropractic starts with Palmer’s major contribution to the health field, which was his codification of the philosophy, art and science of chiropractic, based on his extensive knowledge of human anatomy and physiology.

The First Adjustment in the History of Chiropractic

The first adjustment in the history of chiropractic was performed when Palmer saw Harvey Lillard, a partially deaf janitor, working without his shirt on in Palmer’s office. At that time, Palmer noticed that Lillard had a vertebra out of position and asked him what had happened. The reply was that he had felt a ‘pop’ in his back after moving the wrong way, and that his hearing was gone afterwards. Palmer then brought Lillard in a position allowing him to perform the necessary adjustment. The next day, when Lillard came back to work he reported his hearing had improved.
Further Development

From that time on Palmer developed chiropractic and in 1987, for the first time in the history of chiropractic, a chiropractic school with the name “Palmer School of Cure” was established – an institution which is today known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic, located in Davenport, Iowa. Many people, after the first successful chiropractic adjustment had become known widely, expressed their interest in Palmer’s new science and healing art. Bartlett Joshua, Palmer’s son, and further colleagues of the older healing arts of medicine and osteopathy became Palmer’s early students and pioneers in the field of chiropractic. The first state law licensing in the history of chiropractic was passed in 1913, which is also the year of death of Daniel David Palmer. In 1931, there were already 39 US states that had given legal recognition to chiropractors.

Today, chiropractic is widely recognized as a health care profession. In the United States of America there are more than 70,000 active chiropractic licenses, and many other countries, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Japan, and Switzerland recognize and regulate chiropractic, too.