Chiropractic [ from Greek chiro means hand & practice meaning practitioner ] is a health care discipline and profession that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment & prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculo-skeletal system especially the spine.
The underlying principle is that disorders of the spine can affect one’s general health due to the spines’ intimate relationship with the nerve system. The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including adjustment of the spine ( a chiropractic adjustment ) & the extremity joints ( shoulders, hips, elbows, wrists etc. ).
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Chiropractors will often counsel their patients on exercise, weight loss & other positive lifestyle changes. Traditional chiropractic follows the concept that a vertebral subluxation ( ie. a spinal joint dysfunction or lesion ) interferes with the body’s function by distorting the flow of the body’s innate intelligence.
The innate intelligence is that power or energy within all living things that gives it life & it’s medium is the central nerve system. So to say it another way, unhealthy spines will interfere with the quality of one’s health & life.
Daniel David Palmer [ D.D. Palmer ] known as the father of chiropractic founded the profession in 1895 in Davenport, Iowa. Back then he was known as a magnetic healer & hypothesized that manual manipulation of the spine could cure dis-ease.
At the time, chiropractic competed with its predecessor, osteopathy, a medical system based upon magnetic healing & bone-setting. On the 18th of September, 1895 a janitor named Harvey Lillard who D.D. knew from cleaning the building where he had his magnetic healing office, came in to do the cleaning. D.D. had difficulty communicating with Harvey because he was deaf. On that particular day, D.D. was inspired to test his curiosity & had Harvey lie face down on an examination table & he adjusted his neck. His idea was that if he could restore proper alignment in Harvey’s neck, it might help his hearing.
Well, that moment in time is when many consider the birth of the chiropractic profession because Harvey got up off of that table & was never the same again.His hearing was miraculously restored ! D.D. then began treating many other patients with many different conditions with apparent success & in 1898 began teaching chiropractic to a few students at his new school, the Palmer School of Chiropractic.
It interesting to note that D.D. was a transplanted Canadian who was born in Port Perry, Ontario. There is quite an impressive monument in Port Perry honoring his contribution to the profession and to mankind.
‘Old dad chiro’ as he is fondly referred to in the profession had a few children, and one of them ended up becoming a major influence in the evolvement of the profession.
Bartlett Joshua or B.J. as he was commonly referred to ,was also a student of his father in the first class for chiropractic students at the Palmer school. B.J. became heavily committed to promoting this new healing profession & assumed control of the Palmer school in 1906.
B.J. is referred to as the ‘developer of chiropractic’ because it was his influence & passion for the profession that exploded the enrollment at the Palmer school.Several other chiropractic schools surfaced over the next few decades & by 1924, there were an estimated 25,000 chiropractors in the United States.
It was during this period that a fierce battle between the medical profession & the chiropractic profession evolved. Chiropractor’s were jailed for practicing medicine without a license. There were many disputes about who was qualified to ‘diagnose’ disease & who was licensed to “treat” disease.
A battle of terminology ensued & the early chiropractors gathered together under the tutelage of B.J. and argued that they did not diagnose but rather ‘analyzed’ disease,and ‘adjusted’ subluxations rather than ‘treat disease’.
Even through these turbulent times, B.J. & the profession forged ahead. B.J. employed the use of spinal xrays to help identify spinal misalignments ( also known as vertebral subluxations ) and being quite the techo-wizard, designed 2 analytical instruments that have been modified and used extensively by chiropractors & the medical profession all over the world. One being a skin temperature sensing device & the other for measuring brain wave activity.
B.J. was a very charismatic businessman, philosopher & scientist. He budddied up with the likes of Henry Ford & Teddy Rosevelt, wrote well over 20 volumes of chiropractic text ( referred to as the ‘Green Books’ ) and he even owned his own radio station.
From the Palmer school evolved the Palmer Clinic which quickly became the place for the sick & suffering medical failures to come to get well without the use of drugs or surgery. These patients were only treated chiropractically & there was a period of time that it was so busy, that B.J. was not even concerned with what the patients symptoms or health issues were. He analyzed their subluxations, adjusted them & when they were better, they left.
Patients often stayed over-night at the Palmer clinic as it was set up as a hospital & patients would stay & get adjusted until they were well enough to leave. As previously mentioned, several chiropractic schools surfaced in the early 1900’s as there were some chiropractors who challenged B.J.’s ideals.
This led to the ‘mixer’ vs ‘straight’ fight within the profession and also many different adjustive techniques as other chiropractors began stepping forward proclaiming they had something new & better to offer the sick & suffering.
Mixers were those who would use other forms of therapy in conjunction with the adjustment, some even agreeing with the practice & principles of medicine ( which infuriated B.J. by the way ), and the ‘straights’ were those who adjusted the spine only viewing chiropractic care as something separate & distinct from medicine, even claiming to be the saviors from what they claimed to be the inhumane practice of medicine.
This internal conflict did not do the profession any favors as the medical establishment continued to prey, criticize, slander & were on a mission to destroy the profession.
In 1966, the American Medical Association went as far to publicly state to all their members that chiropractic was an “unscientific cult “ and it was unethical for medical doctors to associate with “unscientific practitioners”.
Chiropractors forged ahead conducting political campaigns to secure separate licensing statutes & eventually succeeded in all 50 states by 1974. The 1966 proclamation by the AMA however was the last straw.
The profession unified and filed a lawsuit against the AMA and almost 20 years later the AMA was found guilty of conspiracy & that it had engaged willingfully in the unreasonable restraint of a trade.
Even though this was a landmark decision, there is still a strong opinion within some members of the medical community who have very little, none or a derogatory opinion of the chiropractic profession.
There are those doctors & specialists who do hold a favorable opinion of our profession, but I can safely say this is the exception rather than the rule.
Nonetheless, chiropractic has grown to be one of, if not the largest drug-free healing profession in the world.
Today, millions of people all over the world benefit from chiropractic care; from newborns to the elderly, common folk, celebrities, actors, actresses & professional athletes.
As more & more people are taking the responsibility for their own health, they are leaning towards natural & holistic forms of health care for themselves & their families. Chiropractic is definitely helping to lead the way.
I have been involved in the chiropractic profession since 1982. Operating a family practice, I have seen the benefits realized by almost every type of patient imaginable. There still remains the mixers & the straights, but it is really up to the consumer to choose what works best for them.
The bottom line is, people who get regular chiropractic care live more vital & healthier lives. This is my observation over the past 28 yrs & it really doesn’t matter what others say, myself & my patients know it works.
Chiropractic continues to grow in popularity as more & more scientific research validates what we do, and do we really save lives? My answer is an emphatic “yes” because I would not cherish the thought of a world without chiropractic.