The history of chiropractic care

Chiropractic is a form of spinal manipulation, which is one of the oldest healing practices. Spinal manipulation was described by Hippocrates in ancient Greece.

In 1895, Daniel David Palmer founded the modern profession of chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer was a self-taught healer and a student of healing philosophies of the day.

He observed that the body has a natural healing ability that he believed was controlled by the nervous system.

He also believed that subluxations, or misalignments of the spine (a concept that had already existed in the bonesetter and osteopathic traditions), interrupt or interfere with this ‘nerve flow.’

Palmer suggested that if an organ does not receive its normal supply of impulses from the nerves, it can become diseased. This line of thinking led him to develop a procedure to ‘adjust’ the vertebrae, the bones of the spinal column, with the goal of correcting subluxations.

There are differences in beliefs and approaches within the chiropractic profession. Some chiropractors continue to view subluxation as central to chiropractic health care. However, other chiropractors no longer view the subluxation theory as a unifying theme in health and illness or as a basis for their practice.

Other theories as to how chiropractic might work have been developed.


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