Brief History of Chiropractic

Dr Timothy Lim

August 5, 2019

As Singapore's 54th national day approaches August 9, 2019, I like to share a brief history of Chiropractic to Singaporeans.

Come September 18, 2019; chiropractic will be 124 years old. A relatively young profession as compared to the medical doctor profession of at least 259 years.

The word chiropractic (pronounced kai·ruh·prak·tuhk) comes from 2 root words "chiro" meaning "by hand" and "praktos," which means "done." Put the two words together, chiropractic means "done by hand."

Daniel David Palmer performed the first chiropractic adjustment on September 18, 1895. The patient's name was Harvey Lillard. He was a toilet cleaner who lost his hearing after he injured his upper back 17 years ago.

D.D. Palmer placed his hands on Mr. LIllard's upper back spine and pushed a misaligned vertebra bone back in its place! Harvey miraculously regained his hearing.

Putting bones of the spine back in place was not new. Chinese practitioners or Tit-Tar, Thai massage therapist and martial artist have been "popping" joints to help fix injuries for centuries.

How is chiropractic any different from these bonesetters?

DD Palmer made chiropractic better by putting together the ART, SCIENCE, and PHILOSOPHY. While others were just trying to put bones back, he pursued to find the cause of why spinal bones misaligned even when there is no apparent injury.

He continued to develop the chiropractic and started a chiropractic university so others may formally learn the chiropractic art of healing the body. The journey to get chiropractic recognized by the government and the medical community was somewhat tumultuous.

Many were persecuted and even thrown in jail.

The efforts of DD Palmer and the many unsung heroes of Chiropractic in America finally paid off.

The United States government, in 1913, granted the first license to graduating practitioners to be Doctors of Chiropractic. Since then, chiropractic began to spread throughout the USA and around the world.

In 1993, Hong Kong became the first country in Asia to recognize and license the chiropractic profession to be on equal footing as medicine and dentistry. Chiropractors in Hong Kong are officially known as "Jǐ gǔ shénjīng kē yīshēng" or "Doctor of Spinal Neurology."

While the chiropractor or doctor of Spinal Neurology treats the spine manually, the orthopedic surgeon, on the other hand, intervenes with surgical procedures.

Down under, Australians signed thousands of petition to include chiropractic into their healthcare system. Finally, in 2005, the Australian government allowed the inclusion of chiropractic services into on the Australian Government's Medicare Benefits Schedule. Go, mates!

Just across the causeway in Malaysia, the International Medical University Malaysia (IMU) in Kuala Lumpur offers a Bachelor's of Science degree in chiropractic. The university saw its first graduates of chiropractic in June 2014. Chiropractors in Malaysia comes under the purview of the Federation of Complementary & Natural Medical Association, Malaysia (FCNMAM).

The chiropractic profession in Taiwan is not so fortunate. In 2018, The Taiwan Department of Health declared spinal manipulations are to be considered medical acts.

The Chiropractic Doctors Association of Hong Kong (or CDAHK) posted on their Facebook:

"Taiwan Chiropractic Doctors Society (TCDS) had faced with a situation where the medical profession has essentially stolen the right to perform chiropractic from the chiropractic profession."

"The lack of chiropractic legislation left them vulnerable to lose the right to practice

Today, I am thankful the government allows the practice of chiropractic in Singapore, although it is still currently not legislated.

My hope is for chiropractic to part of Singaporeans healthcare systems such as CHAS, MediSave, and MediShield.

Currently, medical coverage for chiropractic in Singapore is available only in some Accident Insurance and Travel Insurance policies. I recommend buying an accident or travel insurance that includes chiropractic treatments the next time you travel.

I wish my fellow Singaporeans a Blessed National Day! Continue to pray for peace, harmony, and prosperity for our country. Be grateful for all things; it's good for the soul.

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