The History of Chiropractic Medicine

Spinal manipulation has been practiced since the beginning of recorded time. Chinese records from about 2700 BC provide one of the earliest written references to spinal manipulation. Papyrus records kept by the Greeks and dating back to at least 1500 BC note instructions for manipulating the legs in treating conditions of the lower back. Records also indicate that the ancient Japanese, Indians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Syrians, Tibetans, and Native Americans practiced soft-tissue manipulation.

Chiropractic in the United States was first practiced more than 100 years ago by Daniel David Palmer, originally of Canada. He first performed spinal manipulation in 1895 on a patient who had become deaf 17 years earlier after he felt something “give” in his back. Palmer examined the back and gave a crude adjustment to what he believed was a misplaced vertebra in the upper spine. The patient then observed that his hearing improved. Palmer continued to explore the relationship between joint dysfunction, its effect on the nervous system, and the impact of both on human health. In 1897 he founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.

During its 100-year history in the United States, the chiropractic profession has faced and overcome many obstacles, including a boycott of the profession by the American Medical Association (AMA). After nearly two decades of legal action by the chiropractic community fighting this boycott, in 1992 the Supreme Court of the United States sided in favor of the chiropractic profession, stating that the AMA had acted in violation of antitrust laws. As part of the legal settlement, the AMA released to its members an ethics opinion on chiropractic, stating that it was thereafter ethical for medical doctors to refer and associate with doctors of chiropractic. Today, the two professions enjoy strengthened ties, as witnessed through the interchange of college faculty and the increase in inter-profession referrals.

Source cite: “Chiropractic,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007 © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic, (from the Greek words chiros and praktikos meaning ‘done by hand’) is a form of health care that prevents disease and maintains a patient’s health and well-being through spinal manipulation, which involves adjusting the vertebrae in the spinal column, without the use of drugs or surgery. Chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spinal column, the nervous system, the circulatory system, and a patient’s nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle choices. The practice examines the combined effect of these factors on a patient’s overall health and the prevention of disease.

Chiropractic is based on the theory that our nervous system is the key to maintaining homeostasis, or a healthy balance, in our bodies. Doctors of chiropractic (DC), known as chiropractors, believe that the body is susceptible to disease when this balance is disrupted by misaligned vertebrae, or subluxations, and any other joints and muscles that disturb the proper functioning of the nervous system due to tissue injury. Chiropractors use carefully applied hand pressure in a thrusting motion to improve vertebra or joint mobility, which in turn improves nerve function and reduces pain. One theory suggests that chiropractic therapy triggers the release of the body’s endorphins, natural painkillers produced in the brain. Chiropractors believe that chiropractic is most effective soon after the patient has experienced pain and before the body deteriorates into a chronic state of disease. Chiropractors primarily treat patients with conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and headaches. In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors are also qualified to provide soft tissue manipulation, such as muscle massage and ultrasound stimulation of deep tissue; physical examinations; X rays; counseling on lifestyle and nutritional changes; and counseling on exercises aimed at building flexibility, strength, and overall well-being. Chiropractors refer patients to another health care provider if the patient’s condition or disease would be better treated through other medical approaches.

Source Cite: “Chiropractic,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007 © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.