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The History of Chiropractic

The History of Chiropractic



On Sept. 18, 1895 the first chiropractic adjustment was given.
That date marks the official founding of this important healthcare
profession. Now, 124 years later, millions of Americans have seen
a chiropractor and people across the globe continue to benefit
from this powerful, preventative and drug-free approach to healthcare.

While 1895 may mark the official beginning of chiropractic,
there is evidence that forms of chiropractic stretch back as far as 3000 B.C.
References can be found in ancient Chinese writings and in 1500 B.C. the Greeks
wrote about spinal manipulation to decrease lower back pain. And, famously, Hippocrates (460 to 357 B.C.),
the father of Greek medicine, said “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”

Even though spinal manipulation and knowledge may go back thousands of years, we recognize the true founding father of chiropractic as Daniel David (D.D.)

Palmer—the man who gave the first adjustment more than one hundred years ago.

Take a quick trip through the history of this healing field!

Sept. 18, 1895

While there are differing stories, we do know D.D. Palmer adjusted Harvey Lillard on this date after discovering a spinal misalignment (subluxation). Soon after, Lillard claimed his hearing, which had been damaged for 17 years, had begun to return.

1896 – After taking advice from his friend, Reverend Samuel Weed, D.D. named this newly discovered field of medicine “chiropractic,” which is the combination of the Greek words cheiros and praktikos—meaning “done by hand.”

In this same year, D.D. added a chiropractic school to his magnetic healing infirmary, the Palmer School of Chiropractic. This school today is known as Palmer College of Chiropractic.

1900 – Minora Paxson became the first woman to receive her doctorate of chiropractic, which she earned at D.D. Palmer’s Chiropractic School and Cure.

1904 – D.D.’s son, Bartlett Joshua (B.J.) Palmer, takes over the Palmer School of Chiropractic. He has been called the “developer” of chiropractic.

1906 – The Universal Chiropractors’ Association (UCA) was formed at the Palmer School of Chiropractic. B.J. was the association’s first secretary.

1913 – Kansas is the first state to recognize and license the practice of chiropractic.

1922 – The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) was officially formed. In 1930, this association merged with the UCA to create the National Chiropractic Association (NCA). Finally, in 1963 the NCA returned to its original name, the American Chiropractic Association.

1963 – The U.S. National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) is organized to ensure consistency across state examining boards.

1974 – Louisiana is the last state to recognize and license the practice of chiropractic.

1988 – The World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) is formed. Today, this worldwide organization has members from other national associations of chiropractors in more than 92 countries.

1997 – The WFC is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and admitted into official relations.

1998 – Chiropractic schools expand to countries around the world, including Australia, Chile and South Africa, surpassing the number of chiropractic schools in the United States by one.

2002 – Chiropractic care and services are brought into the United States’ military health system by U.S. Congress.

2015 – The Joint Commission, an organization that accredits more than 21,000 US healthcare organizations and programs, adds chiropractic to its pain management standard.

2017 – The American College of Physicians releases new guidelines for the treatment of low back pain, recommending gentle, non-drug treatments, like chiropractic, first.