History of Chiropractic
By Christopher Oliver, DC, PAC
Oliver Chiropractic & Acupuncture
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History of Chiropractic
The writings of Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.), Galen (130-200 A.D.), and even ancient manuscripts of the Egyptians, Hindus, and Chinese reveal some principles common to chiropractic. Its place in modern health care is largely attributed to Dr. Daniel David Palmer, who founded the first chiropractic college in Davenport, Iowa, in 1895.
Dr. Palmer was a healer and a teacher trying to understand the cause and effect of disease. His first chiropractic adjustment was performed in 1895. According to Dr. Palmer, he was taking a break from his work when he was trying to have a conversation with a janitor named Harvey Lillard, who was, for the most part, deaf. He asked him two questions. “How long have you been deaf Harvey?” and, “Did something happen to you just before you lost your hearing?”
Harvey was able to respond and answered that he had been deaf for many years, and, yes, he was in a stooped position while cleaning under a desk when he felt a snap in the upper portion of his spine. He thought nothing of it, but when he awoke the next day he had an approximate 80% hearing loss.
Dr. Palmer examined Harvey and found a vertebra out of place in his upper spine. Dr. Palmer reasoned that if a vertebra which moves out of place could cause a hearing loss, then returning it to its proper position could possibly restore Harveys hearing. He adjusted the vertebra back into position on three separate days. After the third adjustment, Harveys hearing was restored.
At first, Dr. Palmer thought that he had discovered a cure for deafness. He placed ads in the local newspaper telling the news of a new type of care for deafness and received more than a few responses. On each deaf patient, he adjusted the same vertebra that he adjusted on Harvey. But, none of these deaf patients had their hearing restored. It was during this time, however, that he noticed something very strange. Many of these deaf patients had other health problems that seemed to disappear upon adjusting their spine, such as high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, back pain, and many other conditions and symptoms. Dr. Palmer theorized that “if two diseases, so dissimilar as deafness and heart trouble, came from impingement, a pressure on nerves, were not other diseases due to a similar cause?” And so chiropractic was born.
He began developing his adjustment techniques and was soon getting results with many different conditions, from colic to ear infections to headaches. Because of its success in healing, the new profession grew quickly. The name “chiropractic” comes from two Greek words meaning “done by hand”.
All 50 states and many countries recognize chiropractic as a health-care profession. Today, there are more than 50,000 chiropractors in the United States alone, and there are 26 chiropractic colleges worldwide.
Since the first chiropractic adjustment in 1895, the chiropractic profession has rapidly grown to be the third-largest field of health care behind medicine and dentistry. A growing number of medical practices, hospitals, and health-care organizations in the United States now include the services of chiropractors.
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