Chiropractic History

The very beginning of chiropractic history is thought to be in 1895. During this year, Canadian Daniel David Palmer founded it as a health profession.

Palmer had no conventional medical training, but performed the first known chiropractic adjustment on partially deaf janitor, Harvey Lillard. Lillard had reported normal hearing for most of his life, up until one day when he bent over and heard a pop in his back. After this his hearing deteriorated. Palmer examined Lillard’s back and found his vertebrae was slightly out of place. He made the assumption that popping it back in to the correct position would return the janitor’s hearing to normal. After doing so, Lillard did in fact find that his hearing had returned to how it was before his back popped.

Palmer was soon seeing patients with all kinds of ailments. These ranged from stomach pains to epilepsy. He treated them using his special ‘adjustments’. These were later coined, chiropractic. Palmer argued that most ailments in the human body are the result of misalignments of the spine that apply pressure on the surrounding nerves. He believed these are responsible for blocking natural energy flow (‘life force’) through the body. By making spinal adjustments, Palmer believed he was eliminating the nerve interference, and restoring the proper flow of energy.

Palmer’s School of Chiropractic was highly successful and by 1898 was taking on its first students. In the 20th century the treatment gained esteem and has grown to become a worldwide profession. Today chiropractic is used in the primary care environment. Although Palmer’s beliefs do not form the basis of treatment, most chiropractors believe that the health of the spine and the associated nervous system can influence the overall health of the entire body.


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