What is Chiropractic

Chiropractic is many things: a philosophy…a science…an art. It is built upon the realization that health is the body’s normal state, and good health is perfectly natural. Chiropractic holds that the body possesses a unique internal wisdom that continually strives to maintain it in a state of good health. It is this innate, instinctive intelligence which controls our heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline production, and other vital bodily functions. (For example, each one of us makes 3 to 5 million red blood cells every second!) It is also the guiding force which allows our body to adapt naturally to the influences of internal and external environment.

To a great extent, the ability of the body to maintain good health is dependent on its ability to adapt to the environment. Ensuring this capability is nature’s most miraculous communication network: the human nervous system. As the brain receives and processes the information, it sends out revised commands so that the body will adequately respond to its surroundings and maintain the optimum level of good health.

These mental impulses are transmitted to and from the brain via nerves passing through the spine. Vertebrae in the spine can — and frequently do — lose their natural alignment. These misalignments, called subluxations, cause messages transmitted over the spine to become garbled, modified, or diminished. As a result, the body’s response is inadequate to adapt properly. As the natural ability to adapt and respond to its environment is reduced, the body’s ability to respond to challenges to its health is likewise reduced, and poor health results.

Chiropractic seeks to identify and analyze subluxations. Whenever possible, the doctor of chiropractic reopens the body’s natural communication network by adjusting the misaligned spinal segments back into their natural position. With nerve function improved, bodily processes are permitted to become more normal, and the body is better able to return to its natural striving toward good health. Chiropractic’s concern, then, is with the correction of subluxation. Its aim is to ensure that the body’s natural health-ensuring processes are allowed to function without nerve interference due to misaligned vertebrae. It does NOT provide “sickness” care . . . “disease” care . . . or “symptom” care. It provides HEALTH CARE!

As a philosophy, chiropractic recognizes that the body has a natural ability to express its health potential to the fullest. As a science, it dealt with the relationship between the spinal segments and the nerve system, and the effect this relationship has on the body’s innate ability to express and maintain its good health. As an art, it entails knowledge, skill, and dexterity to locate and correct subluxations that can rob the body of the ability to maintain it’s own health.

The History of Chiropractic

One day in 1878, while working in a stooped, cramped position, Harvey Lillard felt something “pop” in his neck. A few days later, he was almost completely deaf. Seventeen years passed in virtual silence. Then, on September 18, 1895, Lillard told the story to Daniel David Palmer, a magnetic healer who practiced in the Davenport, Iowa building where Lillard worked as a janitor.

Palmer examined the deaf man’s spine and discovered a big bump in the area where Lillard had said he felt the “pop.” Reasoning that this bump was the result of one of the spine’s vertebrae moving out of line with the others, Palmer persuaded Lillard to let him try to restore it to the normal position. He had the janitor lie down on his stomach, and applied force to the bump There was another “pop” and the bump was gone. In a few days, Lillard was able to hear once again.

Chiropractic was born. Palmer began checking other patients for evidence of misaligned vertebrae and adjusting them. He quickly discovered that many of their ailments were alleviated, and even eliminated altogether, after his efforts to reposition the bones. From these observations, and from his own study and knowledge of health, Palmer concluded that good health is the normal, natural state of the body. He also reasoned that the body’s own natural ability to fully express its good health was reduced by the interference to the passage of mental impulses to and from the brain; impulses that carried vital information regarding the proper functioning of the body and which were transmitted via the spinal cord.

If misaligned vertebrae could be returned to their normal positions, Palmer theorized, the free flow of information within the body could resume. Thus, the body’s former ability to maintain itself in a state of natural good health would be restored.

Further study and investigations of the discovery and its implications followed until Dr. Palmer had no doubt of the effectiveness of the correction, which he called “chiropractic,” from the Greek words meaning “done by hand.” With his son, B.J., who was equally convinced about the life-enhancing benefit of chiropractic, Palmer founded the first college designed to teach the philosophy, art, and science of the unique health care system.

Several of the early chiropractic “pioneers” differed in some of their views and ideas, but almost all of them held fast to several important precepts:

  • that the body has an innate intelligence which continually strives to maintain the highest level of health.
  • that chiropractic is a natural, non-invasive, and drugless way to remove a major form of interference to health.
  • that the sole objective of chiropractic practice should be location, analysis, and correction of vertebral subluxations.

A few, however, began to veer away from the original principles of chiropractic. Dubbed “mixers” by Palmer, these chiropractors adopted the medical objective of treating diseases and used medical techniques in addition to chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic who continue to follow the original principles of chiropractic, are said to practice “straight” chiropractic.

Over the past 105 years, through the brilliant work of individual chiropractors, over 40 major chiropractic techniques have been developed. All seek to assess the spine for nerve interference and reduce it with forces called “adjustments”. Chiropractic has survived and thrived and grown into the largest drugless healing art worldwide because all of these techniques work to restore health at least some of the time.