Chiropractic 101

Screen shot 2014-08-07 at 8.50.07 AMChiropractic is a unique type of healthcare that operates under the simple premise that the STRUCTURAL ALIGNMENT OF THE SPINE DICTATES THE FUNCTION OF THE BODY.  The nervous system, which is contained and courses through the spinal column, controls all body functions and processes.  Changes in the alignment of the spinal column can cause interference within the nervous system. This condition is called a “SUBLUXATION.”  
A subluxation is simply a misalignment of the bones in the spine resulting in mechanical stress to the surrounding nerves, muscles, ligaments, and discs.  Subluxations can cause pain, disc and joint degeneration (arthritis) and they can cause more complex, systemic health conditions, such as breathing or digestive problems.  A chiropractor is the only type of doctor in the field of healthcare trained to detect and correct spinal misalignments. 

X-ray Showing Subluxations (Misalignments) of Lumbar Vertebrae in the Lower Back
X-ray Showing Subluxations (Misalignments) of Lumbar Vertebrae in the Lower Back

Spinal misalignments are determined by an examination and x-rays.  Once the location and direction of the spinal misalignments are determined, the chiropractor performs a series of adjustments to return the spine to its proper position.  Other procedures, such as spinal exercises, may also be performed to help strengthen the surrounding muscles to hold the spine in its new, realigned position.  Maintaining normal spinal alignment with chiropractic care is a vital necessity for good health.


History of Chiropractic
Manual treatment of the spine and other joints in the body has been used for thousands of years.  Ancient hieroglyphics (wall writings) from China and Greece dating between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. have shown chiropractic-type adjustments being performed to treat low back pain.  In fact, Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician published a text detailing the importance of manual manipulation. In one of his writings he said, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”

The chiropractic profession officially began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer restored the hearing of a deaf man in Davenport, Iowa.  Here is how D.D. Palmer described the event:

Daniel David Palmer
Daniel David Palmer

“Harvey Lillard, a janitor, in the Ryan Block, where I had my office, had been so deaf for 17 years that he could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch.  I made inquiry as to the cause of his deafness and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooping position, he felt something give way in his back and immediately became deaf.  An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position.  I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored.  With this objective in view, a half-hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allowed me to replace it.  I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever and soon the man could hear as before.”    

Palmer asked a patient and friend, Rev. Samuel Weed, to help him name his new discovery. He suggested combining the latin words cheiros and praktikos (meaning “done by hand”) to describe Palmer’s treatment method, creating the term “chiropractic.”  In 1896, Palmer went on to open the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, which continues to train doctors of chiropractic to this day. 

Many patients who visited a chiropractor in the early years did so because traditional medicine failed to help them.  Chiropractors and their patients experienced many “healing miracles” from spinal adjustments.  However, some of the chiropractors were arrested for practicing medicine without a license.  Attorneys would argue that chiropractors did not practice medicine because they were not prescribing drugs or performing surgery. 

In the mid 1900’s, the medical profession was taking notice of chiropractic’s success.  In 1963, the American Medical Association (AMA) attempted to contain and eliminate chiropractic by distributing media with information designed to defame chiropractic.  In 1975, an anonymous, disgruntled AMA employee released information to the press concerning AMA’s agenda to eliminate chiropractic.  In 1976, five Chicago chiropractors filed a lawsuit against the AMA for violating antitrust laws.  After years of litigation, the Supreme Court found the AMA guilty which finally ended the medical profession’s assault on chiropractic.  Today, chiropractors and medical doctors refer patients to each other and work side by side in multidisciplinary clinics.

Over the last several decades, hundreds of research studies have been published supporting the science of chiropractic.  Studies have confirmed its effectiveness for numerous health conditions, reduced health care costs, and better safety record and recovery rates compared to medical care. Most importantly, studies have shown high rates of satisfied patients.  Chiropractic is so beneficial and cost effective that it is covered by Medicare and many health insurance plans.