The History and Future of Chiropractic Care

In 1895, the first chiropractic spinal adjustment occurred when Daniel David Palmer realigned the spine of Harvey Lillard. The story of their interaction began in Mr. Palmer’s office where Mr. Lillard – the building’s janitor – was emptying the trash can. Mr. Palmer observed that Mr. Lillard had a vertebra out of position. 

When questioned, Mr. Lillard shared that his back popped one day and since then he had been deaf. Mr. Palmer – a student of natural healing practices – asked Mr. Lillard to lie face down on the floor and then he adjusted his back. Subsequently, the deaf janitor’s hearing was restored. 

A short two years later, Mr. Palmer opened a school of chiropractic. 

While Mr. Palmer did not consider himself to be the first to use chiropractic medicine to cure ailments, spinal manipulation was relatively unpracticed as a treatment in 1895.  Mr. Palmer continued his study of chiropractic and developed a technique to administer more specific spinal adjustments.


Early Years

The Palmer School of Chiropractic taught students chiropractic methods, but not everyone was convinced that this medical remedy was viable. One newspaper of the time said, “A crank on magnetism has a crazy notion that he can cure the sick and crippled with his magnetic hands.”

Indeed, the early years were fraught with tension between traditional medicines and this new technique. Chiropractors were jailed – including Mr. Palmer –  for practicing medicine without a license.


Licensing Statutes 

Licensing for healthcare professionals had all but vanished around the time of the Civil War, leaving the profession open to anyone who felt inclined to become a physician. In 1847, the American Medical Association (AMA) was formed and established higher standards for preliminary medical education and for the MD. 

Statutes to practice chiropractic were not established until later, though many chiropractors defiantly opposed the medical statutes they regarded as an infringement of their rights and obligations to serve their patients. In fact, Mr. Palmer believed his techniques did not need the same courses or license as medicine and chiropractors across the country argued that their field was separate and distinct from medicine saying that chiropractors simply analyzed and adjusted. 

Until the 1960s, it was not uncommon for chiropractors to be jailed and fined for practicing without a license.


Chiropractic today

The shared appreciation between chiropractic and conventional medical professionals is very different from the discord of years past. Patient-centered care through cooperation and collaboration is now quite common. 

This collaborative spirit is good for patients, and multifaceted medical facilities are budding. These facilities are offices where chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists, and others can work in tandem to help patients on issues surrounding occupational health, sports medicine, and rehabilitation.

The American Chiropractic Association estimates that there are about 77,000 chiropractors across the country who treat roughly 35 million patients annually. 


What Types of Ailments do Modern Chiropractors Treat?  

The course of chiropractic is ever-changing. While in its infancy, the battle for equitable access to patients and fair portrayals in the media was its biggest concern. Now chiropractors can focus on how their healing adjustments are effective for a variety of illnesses and strains. 

Some issues like back pain have been treated by chiropractors for years, while others like diabetes are a growing area of chiropractic study. 


Severe Headaches

Almost everyone has experienced a headache in their life, but some people experience headaches that cause debilitating pain or even nausea. While some medications have proven effective to try severe headaches, like migraines, chiropractic medication could be an option. 

Indeed, research has shown that spinal manipulation can be effective in treating tension headaches and other headaches that begin with pain radiating from the neck. The clinical trial found that 72% of migraine sufferers experienced noticeable improvement after chiropractic treatment.


Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety find their way into our lives, whether it is through environmental stress like the weather, physical stress like lack of sleep, or emotional stress like dealing with sadness or depression. Even our jobs often cause stress and increase anxiety. 

This abundance of stress can lead to other problems – like exacerbated illness. One way to alleviate some of this stress is to consider chiropractic treatment. 

As you know, chiropractors manipulate the spine, the connection with your body, brain, and nervous system. Spinal manipulation to reduce muscle tension can lead to a healthier way to deal with common stressors.

In addition to manual healing, a chiropractor can recommend relaxation techniques and discuss proper posture to help you heal from prolonged stress.



Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder involving widespread pain and sensitivity throughout the entire musculoskeletal system. The cause for this illness has not yet been discovered, but 2% of the U.S. population – about six million people – suffer from this painful condition. 

Speculation surrounding the cause of Fibromyalgia is widespread, but one suggestion is that Fibromyalgia stems from a central nervous system disorder caused by neurochemical imbalances. This hypothesis indicates that chiropractic healing might be the condition. 

Specifically, one study found that 60% of the patients treated with chiropractic experienced reduced pain, improved sleep, and decreased fatigue.


What is the Future of Chiropractic Practice? 

Chiropractic medicine is already being used alongside other treatment options. The future of chiropractic may be its intersection with and adaptability to technology.

The role of telehealth and telemedicine is growing for those patients who need to access to quality care even if they cannot leave their homes. If a patient is having severe back pain, he or she can reach out electronically to a chiropractor for a consultation as an option before seeking emergency medical care. To some degree, patients can even perform exercises in their own home under the supervision of a chiropractic practitioner.  

Even outside the developing telemedicine field, the future of chiropractic is bright. With groups seeking treatment options and focusing on patient-centered care, the place for chiropractic therapy in a collaborative setting is secure. If you are having medical issues that you believe chiropractic could resolve, contact us today