Chiropractic care (which comes from the Greek word meaning "done by hand") dates back to 1895. It was developed by Daniel David Palmer, a self-taught healer in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer wanted to find a cure for disease and illness that did not use drugs. He studied the structure of the spine and the ancient art of moving the body with the hands (manipulation).

Palmer first treated a local janitor who complained of deafness after performing heavy labor in a stooped position. When he examined the man, Palmer noted a lump on the janitor's back that he believed was caused by a displaced bone of the spinal column (vertebra). Shortly after Palmer manipulated the janitor's back, his hearing was restored.

Later Palmer claimed to successfully treat a man's heart condition using spinal manipulation. Based upon his success with these two cases, Palmer concluded that disease can be the result of a poorly aligned spine.

As more people began to seek Palmer's care, he refined his theory to state that many ailments were caused by the vertebrae pressing on the nerves of the spine. Palmer called such interference with normal nerve signals "subluxations." He believed that manipulating or adjusting to correct the alignment of the vertebrae would restore normal brain and nerve transmission and help the body's natural ability to recover from illness.

Today, most practicing chiropractors mix spinal adjustments with other therapies, such as nutritional counseling and exercise recommendations. They also often use new technologies to find and treat subluxations.

Chiropractors take a medical history in the same way as other healthcare providers. They then examine patients, looking at:

  • Muscle strength or weakness
  • A patient's posture in different positions
  • Spinal range of motion
  • Structural abnormalities
They also use the standard set of neurologic and orthopedic tests common to all healing professions. A chiropractor may order lab tests, X-rays and other tests to help make a diagnosis.

Source: MedlinePlus

Note: This definition was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

Recommended Reading

American Chiropractic Association
The American Chiropractic Association website includes a patient-information section with Health and Wellness Tips and Frequently Asked Questions.

International Chiropractors Association
The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) is an international chiropractic professional organization representing practitioners, students, chiropractic assistants, educators and lay persons worldwide dedicated to the growth and development of the chiropractic profession.

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