History of Chiropractic Care

Unravelling the History of Chiropractic Care: A Journey Through Time

Chiropractic care has become a cornerstone of modern healthcare, offering relief to millions of people worldwide from various musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this holistic approach to healing? Join us on a journey through time as we delve into the fascinating history of chiropractic care, from its humble beginnings to its evolution into a respected healthcare profession.

The Birth of Chiropractic: 1895

The story of chiropractic care begins in the late 19th century, with its founding attributed to Daniel David Palmer. In 1895, Palmer, a magnetic healer and avid researcher, made a remarkable discovery. He claimed that he restored the hearing of a man named Harvey Lillard by manipulating his spine. Palmer believed that misalignments, or “subluxations,” of the vertebrae could interfere with the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

The Term “Chiropractic”: 1896

In 1896, Palmer coined the term “chiropractic” to describe this newfound system of healing. The word itself combines two Greek words: “cheir,” meaning hand, and “praxis,” meaning practice, emphasizing the hands-on nature of the treatment. Chiropractic care, as it came to be known, aimed to address spinal misalignments to restore proper nerve function, thereby promoting overall health and wellness.

Early Challenges and Growth

The early years of chiropractic were marked by both enthusiasm and scepticism. Palmer and his followers faced significant opposition from the medical establishment, which viewed chiropractic care with suspicion. Legal battles, arrests, and debates ensued as the profession sought recognition and legitimacy.
Despite these challenges, chiropractic care continued to grow. The Palmer School of Chiropractic was established in 1897, and the first chiropractic association, the Universal Chiropractors’ Association (now known as the American Chiropractic Association), was founded in 1906. These milestones laid the foundation for the development of chiropractic as a distinct healthcare discipline.

Diversification and Education

As chiropractic care gained popularity, practitioners began to diversify their approaches and techniques. Schools and colleges dedicated to chiropractic education were established, providing standardized training and knowledge. This educational evolution helped enhance the credibility and professionalism of the field.

Key Figures in Chiropractic History

Several influential figures have played pivotal roles in shaping the history of chiropractic:

  1. B.J. Palmer: The son of D.D. Palmer, B.J. Palmer was instrumental in advancing chiropractic education and research. He expanded upon his father’s work and contributed to the development of chiropractic philosophy and techniques.
  2. John Nugent: Dr. John Nugent was a driving force in securing recognition for chiropractic within the U.S. military during World War I. His efforts helped pave the way for chiropractors to be included in the Veterans Administration healthcare system.
  3. Clarence Gonstead: Known for his development of the Gonstead Technique, Clarence Gonstead’s innovative approach to spinal adjustments and patient care contributed to the evolution of chiropractic care.

Modern Chiropractic Care

Today, chiropractic care is an established healthcare profession with practitioners providing a wide range of services to promote health and wellness. Chiropractors use spinal adjustments, manual manipulation, and other therapies to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall well-being. The profession continues to evolve, with chiropractors collaborating with other healthcare providers and participating in ongoing research to expand their knowledge and improve patient outcomes.


The history of chiropractic care is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of those who believed in the power of spinal adjustments and natural healing. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century to its modern incarnation as a respected healthcare profession, chiropractic care has come a long way. Today, it offers effective, drug-free solutions for a wide range of health issues, helping countless individuals lead healthier, more comfortable lives.


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