Today marks 118 years since the first adjustment.
The word Chiropractic is derived from the Greek words chiro meaning ‘hand’ and praktikos meaning practical. The beginning of chiropractic can be traced back to 1895 when Canadian Daniel David Palmer performed the first adjustment and founded Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 1897. It is alos documented that even the “father of medicine,” Hippocrates, used manipulation in the 5th century B.C.
For details surrounding the “first adjustment,” we like the Wikipedia version:
Daniel David Palmer (D.D. Palmer), a teacher and grocer turned magnetic healer, opened his office of magnetic healing in Davenport, Iowa in 1886. After nine years, D.D. Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment to Harvey Lillard, on September 18, 1895. According to D.D. Palmer, manipulation is the cure for all diseases for the human race.
Palmer and his patient Harvey Lillard gave differing accounts of when and how Palmer began to experiment with spinal manipulation. Palmer recalled an incident in 1895 when he was investigating the medical history of a partially deaf man, Harvey Lillard. Lillard informed Palmer that while working in a cramped area seventeen years earlier, he felt a ‘pop’ in his back, and had been nearly deaf ever since. Palmer’s examination found a sore lump which he believed was a spinal misalignment and a possible cause of Lillard’s poor hearing. Palmer claimed to have corrected the misalignment and that Lillard’s hearing improved.
Palmer said “there was nothing accidental about this, as it was accomplished with an object in view, and the expected result was obtained. There was nothing ‘crude” about this adjustment; it was specific so much so that no chiropractor has equaled it.”
However, this version was disputed by Lillard’s daughter, Valdeenia Lillard Simons. She said that her father told her that he was telling jokes to a friend in the hall outside Palmer’s office and, Palmer, who had been reading, joined them. When Lillard reached the punch line, Palmer, laughing heartily, slapped Lillard on the back with the hand holding the heavy book he had been reading. A few days later, Lillard told Palmer that his hearing seemed better. Palmer then decided to explore manipulation as an expansion of his magnetic healing practice. Simons said “the compact was that if they can make [something of] it, then they both would share. But, it didn’t happen.”
Since D.D. Palmer’s first claim of restoring hearing to Harvey Lillard, there has been controversy about whether a link actually could exist between the spinal adjustment and return of hearing. Critics asserted that a spinal adjustment cannot affect certain areas – like the brain – because the spinal nerves do not extend into the encephalon. Years later, V. Strang, D.C. illustrated several neurological explanations including the recognition that sympathetic nerves arising in the lateral horns of the upper thoracic levels of the spine form the upper cervical ganglion with postganglionic fibers ascending to supply, among other things, blood vessels of the brain, but still with no connection to hearing. Others, though, talked about vertebral subluxation.
The study and practice of chiropractic care has come a long way over the last hundred years — and so have we: 22 years and counting, all of them on East 7th Street in New York.