The Truth About Chiropractic Its History…

Part 1 of a 3-part series



By Richard J. Davis, DC

What is chiropractic?  Webster’s dictionary defines chiropractic as “a therapeutic system in which disease is regarded as the result of neural (nerve) malfunction, and manipulation of the spinal column and other structures is the preferred treatment method”.  Chiropractors agree that the body’s natural healing process can be assisted through the nerve system, and that the nerve system is best accessed at joints.

Where did chiropractic come from?  The name chiropractic comes from Greek and means to practice with the hands.  Healing by adjusting the spine was practiced by Hippocrates around 400BC.  The patient’s body was stretched and then pressure was applied to areas of the spine.  This same method was practiced throughout Europe well into the seventeenth century, and beyond.  These practitioners were often referred to as ‘bonesetters’.  In addition, joint manipulation has long been a part of traditional Chinese medicine, since perhaps 2700 BC.  In modern times chiropractic was reborn in Davenport, Iowa in 1895 when D.D. Palmer began healing by adjusting individual vertebrae of spine.  B.J. Palmer, his son, promoted the method and taught many chiropractors.

Where is chiropractic today?  There are some 60,000 doctors of chiropractic practicing in the United States alone. They are becoming recognized as respected members of the total health care team.  To become a doctor of chiropractic requires a minimum of six–and-a-half years of college education, and passing rigorous board examinations. These doctors are trained, licensed, and legally required to diagnose illnesses, and to treat patients or refer them to medical specialists just as general practitioners and internists do. Patients can see doctors of chiropractic without the need for referral.

Who performs chiropractic, and what else do they do?  Licensed doctors of chiropractic perform chiropractic adjustments of joints.  Today, most of them do a great many other things as well in order to promote healing.  These methods include diagnosis by X-ray, soft tissue manipulation, acupuncture (if licensed to do that), nutritional counseling, homeopathy, applied kinesiology, and others.  Chiropractors are the sole, remaining licensed physicians to treat without the use of drugs or surgery.  As such, they fill a very important role in the total health care system.  The partnership of and doctors of chiropractic and doctors of medicine can deliver more safe, effective, and lower cost healthcare than medical alone.

What will be in the next issue?  How good is this combination of doctors?  What is the difference between them? What challenges does chiropractic face?

Dr. Richard J. Davis is an honor graduate of Logan College of Chiropractic, and served on the Logan Board of Trustees and on other boards and committees, always s supporting the chiropractic profession.  He founded and operated a successful private practice in St. Louis until his (semi) retirement in 2009.