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In the Classical World, evidence has been uncovered that the practice of Chiropractic can be dated back to ancient Egypt  (4000 B.C.), China (2700 B.C.), and Greece (1500 B.C). It is also contended that the “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates,  may have practiced chiropractic around 500 B.C. This appears to be evident in his famous quote, “get knowledge of the  spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” Interestingly, this brings us to the origin of the word chiropractic, which  comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktos (meaning ‘done’), i.e., done by hand. The name was  chosen by the developer of chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer, which brings us to the Story of Modern Chiropractic Care.


Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer, born in 1845 in Port Perry, Ontario, is referenced as the “Founder of Chiropractic.” He  emigrated to the United States in his early 20s and undertook the study and practice of several alternative healing  practices. This inquisitive Canadian was a prolific reader of all things scientific. He discerned that although various forms  of manipulation had been used since ancient times, no one had developed a philosophical or scientific rationale to explain  their effects. Palmer’s major contribution to the health field was therefore the codification of the philosophy, art, and  science of chiropractic, which was based on his extensive study of anatomy and physiology.  
In September 1895, D.D. Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment. The first chiropractic adjustment was performed  on a janitor who had become deaf 17 years prior, after he'd felt something “give out” in his back. Palmer examined the  affected area and gave a crude “adjustment” to what was felt to be a misplaced vertebra in the upper back. The janitor,  Harvey Lillard, then observed that his hearing had improved after the adjustment. Lillard also noted in his testimony about  his treatment that he had become deaf around the same time as injuring his back. According to his family, Lillard  continued to receive chiropractic care on a regular basis, even after his hearing was restored. 

Afterwards, D.D. Palmer continued to develop chiropractic, and in 1897, he established the Palmer School of Cure (now  known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic) in Davenport, Iowa. Following the first adjustment, many people became  interested in Palmer’s new science and healing art. Among his early students was Palmer’s son, Bartlett Joshua (B.J.), as  well as members of the older healing arts of medicine and osteopathy. D.D. Palmer was the founder of chiropractic and  B.J. became known as the “Developer of Chiropractic,” as he carried on in his father’s legacy. B.J. and his wife, Mable,  were both chiropractors and instructors at Palmer College. B.J. ran several research clinics in Davenport. His research  helped broaden the curriculum of Palmer School of Chiropractic, and indeed the chiropractic profession. 

The first state law licensing chiropractors was passed in 1913, and by 1931, 39 states had given chiropractors legal  recognition. Currently, there are more than 70,000 active chiropractic licenses in the United States. All 50 states, the  District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands officially recognize chiropractic as a health care profession.  Many other countries also recognize and regulate chiropractic, including: Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Australia, Japan  and Switzerland.  

The Canadian Chiropractic Association states on its website that “4.7 million Canadians already know the benefits of  chiropractic care.” The discovery of chiropractic is a legacy that Canadians can be very proud of!


Mosby’s Medical Dictionary. Mosby-Year book, Inc, Version 1.5, 1995. 

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