Chiropractic Wellness – A US History

Spinal Manipulation or what we now call ‘Chiropractic’ is by no means new to the health profession. Although might once have been labeled ‘quackery’ in traditional medical history. The American Medical Association even called it an ‘unscientific cult’ which it boycotted until 1987. Hippocrates himself noted it as important in treating illness. This form of treatment was never invented by a Chiropractor as such, however, in its US history it is most-often associated with teacher, cum grocer, cum magnetic healer – Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer – who is credited as being its founder.

From the Greek words “cheiros” (hand) and praktikos (“done”), we derive the etymology of the name ‘Chiropractic’, as simply meaning ‘done by hand’. Today it is also important that we understand, modern spinal adjustments are not only performed by hand.

Dr. Solon Langworthy is responsible for adding the term ‘subluxation’ to the vocabulary of this practice, which took place in 1906 with the publishing of the first Chiropractic book. The term is still used today by many chiropractors, although at least one school of Chiropractic refers to subluxation only in a historical context. It basically means – in lay-mans terms – spinal vertebrae or joints being out of alignment, placing pressure on nerves; thereby impairing function in many areas of the body; preventing natural healing processes and also general good health.

Even prior to the 20th century, Palmer began to study the role of the spine on peoples’ health. He also studied anatomy and actually taught himself spinal manipulation techniques, based on ancient health texts. As far back as 1895, a man who was deaf in one ear had told him about his problem, and possibly approached him for help (stories vary). He performed a spinal manipulation (hands-on) and restored hearing to the mans ear – although according to one tale, all he did was slap him on the back with a book, after hearing him tell a joke. This is believed to be the event which started Chiropractic in the USA.

DD Palmer also founded the ‘Palmer School of Chiropractic’, which still exists as the Palmer College of Chiropractic. This took place in 1897, and was used to teach students the principles of this school of healing. His son BJ (Bartlett Joshua) continued to develop and promote Chiropractic manipulation and healing principles, and provided training and education in both the general public and the medical profession during the first part of the 20th century.

Slowly the core principles of this practice grew in popularity as a safe alternative to dangerous surgery and/or drugs, and became more widely accepted by the general public. Continued research has seen Chiropractic wellness emerge as one of the most highly regarded, accessible and popular branches of alternative health care.

Throughout its chequered history Chiropractic care has battle with mainstream medicine. Has been called ‘pseudoscientific’ and worse, but now has the attention of scientific scholars who are seeing good research results. Clinical guidelines have been established which have improved service and quality, and this branch of alternative treatment has become a recommended therapy for the treatment of acute low back pain.

Over a century after Daniel David Palmer said that “manipulation is the cure for all diseases for the human race”, which also landed him in jail. This form of therapy has become mainstream today.

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