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History of Chiropractic

The History and Birth of Chiropractic:

Daniel David Palmer, the Father of Chiropractic


The manipulation of the spinal structure of the body has actually been around longer than traditional medicine.  It dates back to the times of ancient Greece and China as described by ancient writings dating from 2700 B.C. to 1500 B.C.  In these writings, it depicts how forms of manipulation were used on the lower extremities to relieve lower back pain.  Evidence of spinal manipulation on treating body ailments has been traced to many ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Japan, the Incas, Mayans and Native Americans.  Even the great Greek physician, Hippocrates, published a manuscript detailing the importance of manual manipulation on healing the body.  In his writings, he states that we must “get the knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”


As we move further along in history, we come to the great American inventor, Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), who invented the phonograph and electric light bulb.  With all his great inventions, he could not have said it better when he stated, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”


It is not unreasonable then to think that Chiropractic was born from a simple thought or whim, but rather from centuries of history detailing and depicting the multitude of benefits of spinal manipulation.  In 1895, chiropractic was founded by Daniel David (D.D) Palmer.  He was a practitioner of magnetic healing and studied the medical developments in anatomy and physiology throughout the world by reading medical journals.  D.D postulated that most common medications and drugs used were creating chemical stress within the body and were actually harmful to the body.  He aimed to find a way of healing the body by finding the source of the problem, instead of the conventional methods used to treat symptoms.


On September 18th, 1895, D.D Palmer had his first major breakthrough in applying his theories of natural healing.  In the building where he worked as a magnetic healer, there worked a janitor, Harvey Lillard, who had been deaf for 17 years!  After finding a lump on Mr. Lillard’s neck, D.D theorized that the lump was creating interference between the brain and the portion of the nerve that affects hearing.  It was then that D.D Palmer performed the first chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard, and thus successfully restoring his hearing!  This set off in motion D.D Palmer’s theories that altered nerve flow was the cause of all disease and that misaligned vertebrae (subluxation) had an effect on nerve flow.  By restoring the misaligned vertebrae (subluxation) into its proper spinal alignment, it would ultimately lead to the restoration of health.  In 1897, D.D Palmer opened the first Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa (Palmer School of Chiropractic) where chiropractors continue to be trained today.


Through the generations, the chiropractic profession has gained considerable ground in health care via evidence-based research and studies confirming the efficacy and safety of the chiropractic adjustment in patient care.  These studies show what chiropractors have known for 100 years that chiropractic care helps to reduce health care costs, improve work productivity, and increase patient recovery rates and satisfaction.