Chiropractic care is the most popular alternative medical profession, with millions of patients seeking the help of a chiropractor each year. In fact, 1 in 3 patients with lower back pain will receive treatment from a chiropractor. But what exactly is chiropractic care, and where did it all begin? As with many big shifts, chiropractic was the brainchild of one man: Daniel David (D. D.) Palmer.
The history of chiropractic care
D. D. Palmer was a self-taught but passionate scientist. In 1895 he noticed that a partially deaf janitor had a vertebra that was out of alignment. When Palmer used a chiropractic adjustment to push the vertebra back into position, there was a pop and the janitor was able to hear again. This was the first chiropractic adjustment and it spawned the global movement that we know today.
In its beginnings, chiropractic was closely linked to spiritualism but it eventually took a more scientific route. The core idea from the beginning of chiropractic was that the manipulation of dysfunctional joints can improve health due to the relationship between the spine and the nervous system.
During the early 1900s, many chiropractors found themselves jailed for practising medicine without a license. After a long legal battle, during which Palmer wrote the very first chiropractic textbook, chiropractors were allowed to practice and obtain their own licensing statutes.
Modern chiropractic care
Modern chiropractic care is less of an alternative medicine, in many ways. It is viewed by many people as being a mainstream treatment option, and there has been a big push in recent years for research to be conducted into what chiropractic care can achieve. It has been recognised by the American College of Physicians as an effective treatment for lower back pain and its effectiveness for other health conditions is gaining more traction.
The core of modern chiropractic care is still the spinal adjustment. When a joint in the spine is in a state of subluxation, this means that it is out of alignment in regards to the rest of the joints. The goal of a spinal adjustment is to move this joint back into alignment, restoring function to the spine and the nervous system.
There are two types of spinal adjustment:
• short lever - where direct contact is made to the joint to shift it back into position
• long lever - where joints further away from the target joint are shifted in order to move the subluxated joint (e.g. pulling on the thigh to shift joints in the lower back)
Subluxation has also broadened to include not just the bones themselves, but also posture, mobility, blood flow, muscle tone, and nerve function. Chiropractors also receive extensive training in a wide range of treatment options beyond spinal adjustments that can improve patients' quality of life.
Chiropractic care has an interesting history and wasn't always as accepted as it is today. Modern chiropractic care uses the same core concept of spinal adjustment as it did when it was conceived, but it also now serves to provide a more open and inclusive patient-physician relationship than is often found in other areas of healthcare.