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Health and Wellness

A history of chiropractic: then and now

Many chiropractic patients ask, “How did chiropractic get started?” Dr. Daniel David Palmer in Davenport, Iowa, discovered the principle of chiropractic Sept. 18, 1895. On that day, Palmer was in his office carrying on a shouted conversation with the deaf janitor of the building, Harvey Lillard.Lillard explained to Palmer that he had lost most of his hearing 17 years earlier, when he bent over and felt a “pop” in his upper back or neck. Palmer examined the area of Lillard’s back and found a painful bump, which he determined to be a spinal vertebra out of position. It seemed that Lillard noticed this bump right after he lost his hearing. Having knowledge of anatomy, Palmer convinced Lillard to allow him to try to fix it by using his hands to push the bone back into place. Palmer reasoned that if something had gone wrong in his back and caused deafness, the correction of the misaligned vertebrae should bring back Lillard’s hearing.History is uncertain as to whether it was one visit or several, but the result was Lillard regained his hearing. From that point, Palmer changed his practice to this new method of replacing bones that were out of position and allowing people to heal. His practice grew and the profession of chiropractic was born.Within two years, Palmer opened the first school of chiropractic on Brady Street in Davenport. His son, Dr. BJ Palmer, continued the school after the death of his father. It is BJ who is given credit for growing and developing the profession into what it has become today.Chiropractic is the fastest growing and second largest primary health care profession. There are about 60,000 doctors of chiropractic (DCs) in active practice in the United States, spread from rural areas to inner cities. More than 10,000 students are currently enrolled in chiropractic educational programs accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education, a federally recognized organization.Chiropractic services are in high demand. Tens of millions of Americans routinely opt for chiropractic services and this number is growing. In 2006, more than 45 million people made chiropractic a regular part of their health care program.Doctors of chiropractic receive an extensive, demanding professional education on par with medical doctors (MDs) and osteopaths (DOs). To receive the doctor of chiropractic degree, candidates must complete extensive undergraduate prerequisites and four years of graduate-level instruction in addition to an internship at an accredited chiropractic institution. Comprehensive knowledge of all systems of the body and diagnostic procedures enable the chiropractor to thoroughly evaluate a patient, address disorders relating to the spine and determine the need for referral to another health care provider.Doctors of chiropractic are licensed in all 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.Governmental health care programs recognize chiropractic. Chiropractic is included in Medicare, Medicaid, federal employees health care benefits programs, federal workers compensation and all state workers’ compensation programs. Chiropractic students are qualified to receive federal student loan assistance, and DCs are authorized to be commissioned as health care officers in the U.S. Armed Forces.The practice of chiropractic is based on sound scientific principles. The existence of the nervous system as the primary control mechanism of the body is an undisputed scientific fact. Its relationship with the spine is the focus of the practice of chiropractic. The spine develops in utero to provide two primary functions: (1) allow for freedom of movement and (2) house and protect the spinal cord. When the vertebrae of the spine become misaligned through trauma or repetitive injury, two major consequences will result: the range of motion becomes limited and spinal nerves emerging from the spinal cord are compromised. Chiropractors use the term “subluxation” to describe such disruptions. Interruption of nerve flow can eventually lead to pain, disability and an overall decrease in the quality of life. Conversely, the removal of that interference has been shown to have significant, lasting health benefits. Through the adjustment of the subluxation, the doctor of chiropractic endeavors to restore normal nerve expression. The body is then able to respond appropriately to any imbalance in the system; thus, relieving symptoms and restoring health.Chiropractors provide effective, low-cost health care for a wide range of conditions. Studies conducted according to the highest scientific standards and published by organizations not affiliated in any way with chiropractic institutions or associations continue to show the clinical appropriateness and effectiveness of chiropractic care. One study, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health, stated, “On the evidence, particularly the most scientifically valid clinical studies, spinal manipulation applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatments for low back pain. There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of low back pain was transferred from physician to chiropractors.”A chiropractor is an effective source of preventative and wellness care. The anatomical focus of the chiropractor on the human spine has created the perception of the DC as just a “back doctor.” Although this perception is not entirely incorrect, it is incomplete. Doctors of chiropractic are a highly appropriate resource in matters of work-place safety, stress management, injury prevention, postural correction and nutritional counseling.There is a singular lack of actuarial data that would justify concluding that chiropractic care is in any way harmful or dangerous. Chiropractic care is non-invasive; therefore, the body’s response to chiropractic care is far more predictable than its reactions to drug treatments or surgical procedures. Of the nearly one million adjustments given every day in this country, complications are rare. Perhaps the government of New Zealand, which established a special commission to study chiropractic, published the best summary statement on the subject of safety. They found, “The conspicuous lack of evidence that chiropractors cause harm or allow harm to occur through neglect of medical referral can be taken to mean only one thing: that chiropractors have on the whole an impressive safety record.”Palmer Chiropractic,

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