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The History of Chiropractic

July 30, 2021

The history of chiropractic care can be traced back to the evolution of healing techniques that date back to ancient times. The manipulation of bone and muscle has long been part of ancient healing techniques. Around 400 B.C Hippocrates was already using bone-setting techniques to treat various conditions and ailments. The practice of bone setting has also been a staple treatment for injuries in various ancient cultures. However, it wasn't until the mid-1800s when the practice of bone manipulation started to get mainstream attention because it was providing specific results.

History of Chiropractic Care

Davenport, Iowa

It was in Davenport, Iowa in 1895 where Daniel David Palmer adjusted the spine of a deaf janitor that resulted in a restoration of the latter's hearing. Palmer is thought to have had training in bone-setting and based his techniques on 'magnetic healing.' Although spinal manipulation and bone-setting have been widely practiced prior to this development, Palmer claimed to use short-leverage points in making his spinal adjustments which resulted in healing.

In this type of therapy, practitioners identify the unrestricted flow of energy as good health while blocked energy channels signaled illness. He considered the nervous system, especially the spinal cord, as the main energy channel and that any obstruction in this channel hamper beneficial energy flow and cause illness.

The Iowa incident occurred at the ideal time. The medical environment in the mid to late 1800s was already in the middle of upheaval, marred by clashes in schools of thought between conventional physicians and practitioners of alternative medicine. Homeopathy, health foods, hydropathy, herbal medicine, and energy cures were fast becoming popular which made easier the acceptance of occurrences like the restoration of hearing using manual spinal manipulation.

Palmer went on to establish the Palmer School of Chiropractic, where he taught his methods to students. This development led to tensions between his school and practitioners of conventional allopathic medicine. Statutes were later enacted regulating and at times limiting the practice. However, practitioners continued to treat patients even under the threat of jail time.

Chiropractic Education and Research

The US Department of Education officially recognized the Council of Chiropractic Education as the official accrediting body for chiropractic schools in 1974. In 1996, the US government started funding chiropractic research through the National Institutes for Health. Since then, the industry has received various support from the government for research through college research programs nationwide.

Increased scientific research into the viability and benefits of chiropractic has allowed it to become integrated into various health care systems. For one, spinal manipulation became a covered treatment under Medicare in 1972. In 1993, chiropractic treatments were included in the US Defense Department Health Care System.

Today, chiropractic is considered an important element of the US health care system. It is also the largest body of alternative medicine in the US and is a licensed profession in all 50 states. By and large, chiropractic has climbed out of the alternative medicine box and has long been considered a mainstream form of treatment for various ailments making it an important component of health management to address the needs of patients.

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