History of Chiropractic Care

Updated: Jan 22

Chiropractic care is a relatively new branch of medicine that has quickly become established as one of the most popular complementary treatments in the world. Approximately 50 million Americans receive chiropractic care every year and it is fully regulated and licensed and is often covered by health insurance.



What is the history of chiropractic care?

Chiropractic care was devised by D. D. Palmer in 1895. He had a background in magnetic healing and he met a janitor named Harvey Lillard who was partially deaf after an accident that had also affected his back. Palmer found a lump on his spine and deduced that a vertebra was out of its proper alignment, so used the first chiropractic adjustment to push it back into place. Lillard's hearing improved.


After this, Palmer also found a link between spinal subluxation and heart disease after dealing with a patient whose vertebra was pressing on a nerve that ran to his heart. His condition again improved after chiropractic treatment. From these beginnings chiropractic care as we know it today was born. It has always emphasized not using medication to treat symptoms but instead finding ways to help the body to heal itself.


Chiropractic care has dealt with some controversy. At the time of its creation, there was ongoing tension between physicians from mainstream medicine and alternative medicine practitioners, and chiropractic care landed in the latter camp. But its popularity with patients meant that it never fell out of favor and chiropractors pushed for chiropractic care to be accepted as an effective treatment for a wide range of ailments and conditions.


Since then, chiropractic care has been slowly but surely moving into the mainstream and becoming established and trusted, not just by patients but also by the medical establishment. Chiropractic care has now been regulated in the US for more than 100 years and has 20 accredited colleges.


The modern chiropractor often isn't limited to spinal adjustments, and there have been modifications to the original theory on the basis of research and evidence. The inclusion of other forms of therapy that treat the musculoskeletal system using methods other than improving the alignment of the skeleton has meant that chiropractors are often able to treat their patients fully themselves without needing to refer to other health practitioners.


There has been a wealth of experiments and research into the effectiveness of chiropractic care and, for lower back pain and neck pain, chiropractic care is now a recommended treatment by the American College of Physicians. And the evidence is still being collected for the treatment of other conditions.


While chiropractic care has changed dramatically since its formation by D. D. Palmer, it still retains its focus on using non-invasive and drug-free methods to help improve patient health and wellbeing. And it has the same philosophy that dysfunction in one part of the body, and especially the nervous system, has the potential to impact other areas of the body, and that treating that dysfunction can help to treat seemingly unconnected systems.


While chiropractic care doesn't have the long history stretching back to ancient times that many other branches of medicine possess, evidence for its effectiveness has been growing ever since its creation in the late 1800s. As time goes on, and chiropractic care becomes established as an effective form of medicine, it will have the potential to reach and help many more people.


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