The History of the Practice of Chiropractic
The history of chiropractic is a long and eventful one. It was founded by Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer in the 1890’s in Davenport, Iowa. With the help of his son Bartlett Joshua (B.J.), they established the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897. After completing his own studies in the popular healing practices of the day, D.D. developed chiropractic as a means to legitimize an alternative practice to modern medicine. He studied alongside the founder of osteopathy, and through this relationship, was introduced to the power of the human body to heal itself.
The growth of the Palmer College of Chiropractic served dual purposes; to both train doctors in the practice and methodology of chiropractic, as well as further develop the practice itself. The growth of the school kick started the spread of chiropractic care across the states, Daniel David Palmer gave B.J. his share of the rights to the school and retired in the western United States, while remaining a missionary for the innumerable benefits of chiropractic care. Under the tutelage of B.J., the school and the science of chiropractic flourished. B.J. is often considered to be the true developer of chiropractic as it was his further promulgation and development of the practice that allowed it to flourish.
Chiropractic's relationship with Osteopathy
D.D. Palmer was introduced to the concept that the human body was able to heal itself of a vast majority of chronic diseases and pains, without any external influence, while studying with the founder of osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. A.T. Still believed that osteopathy was a necessary discovery, as the modern medical practices of his time were widely causing more harm than good.
Conventional medicine had failed to shed a light on the true cause and the effective treatment of disease. Common practices of the day involved brash medications such as arsenic, castor oil, whiskey and opium. Additionally, unsanitary surgical practice often resulted in more deaths than cures. He studied alternative treatments such as hydropathy, diet, bonesetting and magnetic healing, as he found the relatively tame side effects of these modalities appealing. It was in studying under Dr. Still, and putting these practices to the test, and measuring both their effects and shortcomings, that D.D. Palmer filtered and distilled the knowledge and methods of Dr. Still and crafted the science of chiropractic.
Chiropractic can be seen as a blend of science and metaphysics, for it is a common belief among chiropractic physicians that “the power that made the body, heals the body”. As in the invention of osteopathy, an approach of minimal invasiveness is the standard for all chiropractic care.
Dr. Still believed that the “rational medical therapy of the future” would consist of manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, minimal surgery, and very sparing use of drugs; including antiseptics, anesthetics, and antidotes.
D.D. Palmer carried this belief into his founding of chiropractic, believing that if the body were in an optimal state of function, it would be able to maintain a disease-free state of health. Through his studies with Dr. Still, Palmer realized that the underlying force that healed the body lied in the nervous system. If the nervous system was allowed to operate to its fullest capacity, the remaining systems in the body would follow suit and be able to do the same.