Chiropractic treatments deal with the relationship between the structure of the body and how it functions. The practice mainly focuses on the spine, which is manipulated to enhance the body’s natural healing process, improve function, alleviate pain and correct alignment problems. This type of physiotherapy was identified as a distinct profession in 1895 although people have known about the relationship between the spine and general health since ancient time.
For example, Herodotus was known for using therapeutic exercises to correct spinal abnormalities and treat different diseases. Alternatively, He would manipulate the spine of a patient who was too weak to perform exercises. Aristotle criticized Herodotus, not because his approach was ineffective, but for making old men youthful and prolonging “their lives too greatly.”
Writings from Greece and China dating between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. discuss spinal manipulation for alleviating low back pain. Even Hippocrates wrote about it, encouraging people to understand the spine because it was “the requisite for many diseases.”
The earlier treatment methods were rather crude. Daniel David Palmer discovered and used a specific spinal adjustment in 1895. He first performed the adjustment on Harvey Lillard and treated deafness that had been caused by an earlier injury.
Palmer studied the physiotherapy technique further and determined it could be used to treat a wide variety of health conditions. Chiropractic treatment has a positive impact on the nervous system and joints.
Born in Ontario in 1845, Palmer moved to the U.S. at the age of 20. He was conversant with developments of his time, including the work of a magnetic healer called Paul Caster. He learned the technique and opened Palmer Cure & Infirmary two years later.
Palmer worked late on September 18, 1895 and Harvey Lillard, a janitor, started working close to him. He noted Lillard did not react when a fire engine passed by with a lot of noise. He approached Lillard and discovered the man was deaf when he tried to talk to him.
Palmer found a way to communicate with Lillard and learned that he used to hear things well. One day, he felt a “pop” on his back when he stooped. He discovered he could not hear anything when he stood up.
Palmer connected the popping and deafness. When he ran his hand down Lillard’s spine, he noticed that one of his vertebras was dislocated. It took him half an hour to persuade Lillard to let him replace the vertebra. He used the “spinous process” to put the dislocated vertebra back to its normal position and Lillard regained his hearing.
In the succeeding months, Palmer treated many patients suffering from a wide variety of diseases, from flu to heart complications, using his “hand treatment” method. He later used two Greek words: cheir (hand) and praxis (practice) to coin the word chiropractic.
Palmer established the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897 and accepted the first students the following year. Unfortunately, both the media and medical fraternity vilified him. However, chiropractors have gained legal recognition throughout the U.S.