Happy Birthday

It’s birthday week for Chiropractic (and a little history too)! On September 18th, 1895, the first official chiropractic adjustment was performed.

The word ‘chiropractic’ 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 (D.D.) Palmer who was born in Port Perry, Ontario.

A prolific reader of all things scientific, D.D. Palmer realized that although various forms of manipulation had been used for hundreds if not thousands of years, no one had developed a philosophical or scientific rationale to explain their effects. Palmer’s major contribution to the health field was therefore the organization of the philosophy, art and science of chiropractic which was based on his extensive study of anatomy and physiology.

Palmer performed the initial chiropractic adjustment in September 1895. Palmer examined a janitor who had become deaf 17 years prior after he felt something “give” in his back. Palmer examined the area and gave a crude “adjustment” to what was felt to be a misplaced vertebra in the upper back. The janitor then observed that his hearing improved.

From that first adjustment, DD Palmer continued to develop chiropractic and in 1897 established the Palmer School of Cure, now known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic, in Davenport, Iowa, where it remains today. Following the first adjustment, many people became interested in Palmer’s new science and healing art. Among his early students were Palmer’s son, Bartlett Joshua (BJ), as well as members of the older healing arts of medicine and osteopathy.

By 1902 the school had graduated 15 chiropractors. In 1906, Palmer was prosecuted under the new medical arts law in Iowa for practicing medicine without a license, and chose to go to jail instead of paying the fine. As a result, he spent 17 days in jail, but then elected to pay the fine. Shortly thereafter, he sold the school of chiropractic to his son, B.J. Palmer.

In Canada, many early chiropractors were also jailed for practicing medicine without a licence. The argument was that they were diagnosing medical conditions, which was something only medical doctors were allowed to do. It hasn’t changed in over 100 years, the purpose of chiropractic adjustments is to turn more life on and to allow for better function, healing & replacement of cells.


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