History of Chiropractic Care
The roots of chiropractic care can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time. Writings from China and Greece written in 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. mention spinal manipulation and the maneuvering of the lower extremities to ease low back pain. The understanding that the spine is somehow involved in health and wellness, as well as the practice of using manual manipulation as a source of healing, dates back to the time of the ancient Greek philosophers. In fact, Hippocrates once said, "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases."
The ancient clay tablet shows Asklepios, the 'mild physician' accompanied with "Hygeia", the Goddess of Health, who performs a correction of the vertebral column.
The First Chiropractic Adjustment
Modern chiropractic, however, marks its beginnings in the late 1800s, when a Canadian living in the US, Daniel David Palmer, a self-educated teacher and healer, performed the first spinal manipulation on a patient. That patient was Harvey Lillard, a janitor who worked in Palmer's building. Lillard was nearly totally deaf and mentioned to Palmer that he lost his hearing many years before when he was bending over and felt a "pop" in his upper back.
The first Chiropractic Manipulation.
Palmer, who was a practitioner of magnet therapy (a common therapy of the time) was quite knowledgeable in anatomy and very interested in how the spine interacts with the rest of the body's systems. He felt strongly that the two events—the "popping" in Lillard's back and his deafness—must somehow be related. He examined Lillard's spine and found a problem with one of his vertebra. Palmer manipulated Lillard's vertebra and an amazing event occurred—Lillard's hearing was restored. Today, this procedure is known as a chiropractic adjustment. Palmer soon discovered that adjustments could relieve patients' pain and other symptoms. These problems with vertebrae have been called chiropractic subluxations.
He began to use these "hand treatments" to treat a variety of ailments, including sciatica, migraine headaches, stomach complaints, epilepsy, and heart trouble. In 1898, he opened the Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, and began teaching his chiropractic techniques to others. Palmer was well read in medical journals of his time and had great knowledge of the developments that were occurring throughout the world regarding anatomy and physiology.
In 1897, Daniel David Palmer went on to begin the Palmer School of Chiropractic, which has continued to be one of the most prominent chiropractic colleges in the nation.
The Palmer School of Chiropractic, the first chiropractic school in the world, in Davenport, Iowa
A combination of the Greek words "cheir" (hand) and praktos ("done"), chiropractic means "Done by Hand", although it is important to note that modern spinal manipulation has expanded beyond just hands-based adjustments.
In 1907, Palmer added the term “subluxation” to the chiropractic vocabulary. Palmer explained "subluxations" in terms of the spinal vertebrae and joints putting pressure on the nerves, thus impairing functioning, and then detailed how spinal adjustments could be used to reduce subluxation and improve patient symptoms.
Subluxation is still used today by some chiropractors to describe specific misalignments of the spinal vertebrae and joints and to determine appropriate treatment options. Other terminology currently in use includes manipulative lesion, spinal dysfunction, or joint dysfunction.
Palmer's son Bartlett Joshua (B.J.) further developed and promoted chiropractic in the first half of the 20th century. B.J. Palmer not only provided training in chiropractic, but aided in the education of both the medical community and the general public on the profession. During this time, chiropractic gradually grew in popularity for patients seeking alternatives to traditional treatments using drugs, and its core principles slowly gained more acceptance with continued research.
By the late 20th century, chiropractic emerged as one of the most popular and accessible forms of health care. Throughout the twentieth century, doctors of chiropractic gained legal recognition in all fifty states. A continuing recognition and respect for the chiropractic profession in the United States has led to growing support for chiropractic care all over the world. The research that has emerged from " around the world" has yielded incredibly influential results, which have changed, shaped and molded perceptions of chiropractic care. The report, Chiropractic in New Zealand published in 1979 strongly supported the efficacy of chiropractic care and elicited medical cooperation in conjunction with chiropractic care. The 1993 Manga study published in Canada investigated the cost effectiveness of chiropractic care. The results of this study concluded that chiropractic care would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually with regard to work disability payments and direct health care costs.
Over the years, based on evidence from the scientific literature, chiropractic physicians have increasingly focused on evidence-based treatment of spine-related disorders as well as other musculoskeletal problems.
Chiropractic treatment has traditionally been based on spinal manipulation, which generally involves applying a manual, controlled force into joints that have become restricted by tissue injury with the purpose of restoring the joint's mobility, alleviating related pain and tightness, and allowing the tissues to heal.
While spinal manipulation has become more specialized since its earliest applications in chiropractic care, it has remained one of the most commonly used chiropractic treatments of a profession that does not prescribe medication or perform surgery.
Doctors of chiropractic have become pioneers in the field of non-invasive care promoting science-based approaches to a variety of ailments. A continuing dedication to chiropractic research could lead to even more discoveries in preventing and combating maladies in future years.