Technically, you can say that the history of chiropractic care began in 1895. However, there is a strong historical precedent for utilizing spinal manipulation to heal. From the Ancient Greeks and Chinese to Mayans and Native Americans, numerous civilizations have recognized the importance of adjusting and caring for the spine.
The History of Chiropractic Care
For those who understand Greek, chiropractic’s name offers a strong hint as to what it involves. That’s because the term chiropractic is a combination of two Greek words: “cheir,” which means hand, and “praxis,” which means action. As its name indicates, chiropractic is a form of health care that is primarily completed by hand. It uses manual manipulative treatments to adjust misalignments of the joints, particularly those in the spinal column.
Chiropractors believe that these misalignments negatively affect the nerves, muscles, and organs and are responsible for triggering a wide array of discomforts and disorders. Correcting these misalignments, which are also referred to as subluxations, restores healthy function and allows the body’s systems to operate effectively. The concept at the heart of this hands-on approach to healing has a surprisingly lengthy and impressively multicultural history.
Before Chiropractic: Ancient Cultures and Hands-on Healing
Hippocrates, a renowned Greek physician who is often called the father of modern medicine despite the fact that he lived from 460 B.C. to 357 B.C., was a strong proponent of spinal care. He stressed the value of what would eventually become chiropractic adjustments and spinal manipulation in his writings. “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases,” he urged, and while he might be one of the better-known historical advocates for this form of treatment, he wasn’t the first.
When did healers first begin using spinal adjustments to improve health and wellness? That’s difficult to pinpoint with any real accuracy. Historians have found ancient writings from China and Greece that discuss relieving back pain by manipulating the spine and extremities; these writings were created between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. However, the Chinese and Greeks were not the only ones experimenting with the health benefits of adjusting the spine. Indications have been uncovered that ancient civilizations in Japan, Egypt, Syria, and Babylon all used manual manipulation.
On the other side of the world, the Mayans, Incas, and other Native Americans were healing with similar techniques. We may never know exactly when or where the idea of improving health with spinal adjustments was conceived, but we can trace the beginnings of modern chiropractic care to America in the late 19th century.
The Birth of Modern Chiropractic
The next chapter in the history of chiropractic care begins with the birth of modern chiropractic in 1895. In September, Daniel David Palmer encountered Harvey Lillard, a janitor who had reportedly lost his hearing nearly two decades prior after feeling something give way in his back. Palmer manually adjusted Lillard’s neck, restoring his hearing. Electrified by the success of the treatment, Palmer continued working to develop and refine the therapy that he would later dub “chiropractic.”
In 1897, Palmer founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, and began training others to provide chiropractic care. Today, aspiring chiropractors continue to learn at this respected institution, which is now called the Palmer College of Chiropractic. While it is one of the most prominent schools for chiropractic, it is certainly not the only one. Several schools now offer students the opportunity to undertake the rigorous training required to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
From Competition to Cooperation
Chiropractic is now recognized by the traditional medical establishment as a valuable form of complementary medicine, but relations between the two communities were not always so friendly. In chiropractic’s early days, scrapping over credibility, licensure, and merit was common as the two groups competed for patients. In fact, the history of chiropractic care is full of legal scuffles as chiropractors fought for recognition and respect.
As the 20th century progressed, chiropractors worked diligently to establish themselves as legitimate health care providers. One strategy for achieving this involved creating standards for licensure. In 1913, Kansas becomes the first state in the U.S. to license the practice of chiropractic. Other states followed, with Louisiana becoming the final state to license chiropractors in 1974.
Unfortunately, the traditional medical establishment was still openly hostile toward chiropractic, and it often sought to convince the public that chiropractors were con artists. What put an end to this antagonism? A 1987 lawsuit helped. In the case of Wilk v. American Medical Association, the Illinois Supreme Court found the association guilty of conspiracy and ordered it to pay restitution.
Today, medical doctors and chiropractors often work together to provide the best possible patient care. This cooperative spirit has flourished in part because of the growing body of scientific research that offers clear proof of chiropractic’s benefits. Countless studies have shown that chiropractic can improve recovery rates, increase patient satisfaction, and even reduce health care costs.
Would you benefit from chiropractic care? To learn more about this time-tested form of hands-on healing, contact Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture today. Give us a call at 417-887-8075 or contact us online for more information.