The Early Years

D.D. Palmer is Chiropractic’s founder. Firstly, Daniel David Palmer began practicing “magnetic healing” in Davenport, Iowa in 1886. Also, magnetic healing was a common healing therapy at that time. This therapy was a cross between meridian therapy based on the concepts of Chinese medicine and massage. He applied what he learned about new developments in physiology and anatomy, and resolved inflammation of the nerves and created remedies for his patients.

The First Chiropractic Adjustment

Palmer believed that the body had an ample supply of natural healing power that transmitted through the nervous system. Harvey Lillard, the janitor of Palmer’s building, had lost his hearing 17 years earlier. Lillard communicated to him that he had felt something “pop” in his back when he was in a stooped position while exerting himself, and immediately lost his hearing. Palmer believed that there was a connection between the two events. When Palmer examines Lillard, he discovers a “lump in his back.” Therefore, Palmer speculated that the dislocated atlas vertebra was somehow blocking the spinal nerves innervating the inner ear. He theorized that if he put the vertebra back in place, the nerve pathways would reopen. On September 18, 1895, Palmer applied a firm pressure with his hands to Lillard’s spine, Lillard recovered his hearing. That is to say, the first chiropractic adjustment was made.

Chiropractic: Done By Hand

The word chiropractic was created by Palmer’s patient and friend, Reverend Samuel Weed. He combined the Greek words cheiro (hand) and praktikos (practical or do), formulating the term chiropractic, which translates to “done by hand.” Although many chiropractors use tools or instruments in today’s society, the majority of chiropractors– included by D.D.’s son BJ Palmer, continue to follow the tradition of adjusting by hand only.

“Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” -Hippocrates

Health and the Spine

Over 2500 years earlier, Hippocrates discovered the link between the body and the brain and called it the nervous system. Through his work, Hippocrates removed what he called ‘lesions’ from the spinal column and noted that illnesses cleared up faster. Therefore, those who came to him feeling sick, got well, and were sick much less often. Hippocrates advised, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” Through the years, this type of treatment of the spine was crude and misunderstood, and many cultures have been known to have ‘bone setters’ as healers.

Today’s Wellness

Chiropractic has focused on the ‘wellness’ of patients by reducing what Hippocrates called ‘lesions’ since 1895. Chiropractors call these lesions, ‘subluxations’ of the spine which cause nerve system interference. It is this simple concept that makes chiropractic the largest non-medical health care system in the world today.

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