History of Chiropractic

The history of Chiropractic with regard to its philosophy, science and art is attributed to its founder Daniel David Palmer ('DD') who studied the mechanisms of the spine and its surrounding nervous system, and theorised the close link between spinal dysfunction ("Vertebral Subluxation") and health problems such as spinal, joint, muscle, nerve and associated referred pains. 


D.D. Palmer (Founder of Chiropractic)

The word Chiropractic comes from the two Greek words 'cheiros' and 'praktikos' meaning "done by hand".

The original anecdote recalls how a janitor, William Harvey Lillard who had lost his hearing for 17 years after a spinal injury, had his hearing restored by specific spinal adjustments to the C1 vertebra (Atlas), performed by D.D in 1895. The exact mechanism of how a spinal vertebra impinging a spinal nerve might cause deafness has been subject to much debate, speculation and differences of opinion. Suffice, to say most modern Chiropractors do not claim that they can cure deafness. An interesting story however.

B.J. Palmer (D.D.'s son) developed the profession from a vitalistic principle which asserts the underlying belief of the body's 'Innate Intelligence' which enables it to self-repair and heal (as the body does with wounds and broken bones). Interestingly, homeostasis is the physiological mechansism, whereby the body self-regulates its own cells, tissues and organs to control systems like blood pressure and Insulin release from the pancreas. Historically, Vitalistic and Mechanistic thinkers have been at odds since the time of Hippocrates (the father of Medicine).


B.J. Palmer (Developer of Chiropractic)

Most contemporary Chiropractors see the value of a solid scientific foundation and evidence-based research underpinning chiropractic education and professional practice. The exact mechanisms of how our health is influenced, controlled and maintained will continue to be the subject of much speculation, study and debate. A purely mechanistic, scientific outlook or fundamentally dogmatic vitalistic view are perhaps two polarised attitudes that by their very nature will always find conflict. In the same way that you cannot prove the existence of  'a sense of humour' yet still 'know' it exists, proponents of scientism and vitalism should learn to stand side by side rather than attempt to cynically disprove or discredit the other.