It’s the 1800’s. You are sick. The local town doc gives you an exam. After rummaging through his black bag, tossing aside a small, corked brown bottle and positioning his spectacles, your treatment begins. Wielding a metal device sporting a shiny blade, he cuts open a vein on your arm. A few pints of blood are removed in hopes of curing what ailed you. This is not a new, high copay-like deterrent designed by your HMO to limit your doctor visits, but part of the available health care of the time. Credited for contributing to George Washington’s death in 1799, the practice of bloodletting was one of many medical practices that signified the need for advancement in health care.
On September 18, 1895, a new system of care, called Chiropractic, was born in Davenport, Iowa. Chiropractic remains, to this day, one of the fastest growing health care professions in the USA and abroad. It serves tens of millions of Americans each year.
How did chiropractic start? Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer, a practicing magnetic healer (a common therapy of the time), observed that the janitor of his building, a fellow named Harvey Lilliard, failed to react to a loud fire engine outside. Palmer realized that Lilliard was deaf. Managing to communicate, the janitor explained that he could once hear. One time when he bent over in a stooped position, he heard a “pop” in his spine. Lilliard stood up and was deaf. Believing that the pop and loss of hearing were connected, Palmer examined Lilliard’s back and found a misaligned spinal segment. The first chiropractic adjustment was made, and Harvey Lilliard’s hearing was restored.
What was the connection that Palmer envisioned? The nervous system controls all function within the body. The stack of bones called the spinal column houses and protects a key component of the nervous system that extends down from the brain, known as the spinal cord. If a bone in the back or neck misaligns, it will damage and alter the function of the nervous system. The organ, gland, muscle, etc. fed from the injured nerve will lose some or all function.
D.D. Palmer continued to develop the new healing art with a rich understanding about how the body heals and how optimum health is created. Palmer used core concepts to guide the practice of chiropractic.
1. The body is a self-healing organism.
2. Sickness occurs when there is interference to the body’s ability to heal itself.
3. Healing and function of the body are directed by the nervous system.
4. A common interference to healing is caused by damage in the nervous system created by a misalignment in the spine and/or pelvis. This is called in chiropractic a vertebral subluxation.
5. By removing the vertebral subluxation with a gentle adjustment, the body will again be able to heal, and the problem will often resolve… naturally!
6. Health is achieved when the body is optimally functional, not just pain-free.
7. Living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining the integrity of the spine and nervous system is good prevention, and that helps people reach their full potential.
By focusing on treating the patient and not the symptom, chiropractic offers a unique and welcomed approach. The chiropractic education is on par with that of medicine, and chiropractors are licensed as doctors in all states. Care is extremely safe, effective and usually very pleasant to receive. Research demonstrates that the rebalanced body is able to heal conditions ranging from high blood pressure and neck pain to irritable bowel syndrome and ear infections. Studies also demonstrate the improved quality of life, enhanced athletic performance, fewer illnesses and huge health care dollar savings experienced by people who elect to receive regular chiropractic wellness care.
Health care continues to progress and redefine itself. The natural, holistic homegrown approach of chiropractic care is more popular than ever and may still be ahead of its time. D.D. Palmer's contribution has been a well-appreciated and life-saving practice for millions of patients. Surely, one day all people desiring to regain and maintain optimum health and function may be as glad as the once deaf Harvey Lilliard was to HEAR about chiropractic!