Strange History of Chiropractic

The history of chiropractic care began in Iowa in the United States in 1895. Compared to the medical profession, which is about 259 years old, chiropractic is a relatively younger profession of just over 120 years.

It may seem strange the history of chiropractic started with a humble toilet cleaner, Harvey Lillard. Harvey had lost his hearing after injuring his upper back 17 years ago. 

DD Palmer Delivering an Adjustment to Harvey Lillard’s Spine and Restored His Hearing

Seventeen years after the fact, DD Palmer suggested to Harvey that his hearing might have to do with this back injury. No doctors had been able to treat Harvey with any success. But Palmer’s line of thinking intrigued him enough to allow 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. This event became the first recorded chiropractic adjustment in the history of chiropractic therapy.

Chiropractic History_Harvey Lillard
Harvey Lillard Testimonial

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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.” Hence, chiropractic history began as a hands-only therapy.

Outside of the history of chiropractic medicine in North America, the concept of adjusting bones of the spine was not new. For centuries, Chinese practitioners or Tit-TarThai massage therapists, and martial artists have been “popping” joints to help fix injuries. 

How is Chiropractic Different from Bonesetters?

DD Palmer made chiropractic better by putting together the ART, SCIENCE, and PHILOSOPHY. He incorporated the use of x-rays to visualize possible misalignments in the spine. 

While others were trying to put bones back, he pursued to postulate on how toxins, thoughts, and trauma can misalign bones even when there was no apparent injury and maintain good spinal hygiene. The chiropractic professional approach is vastly different from the orthopedic surgeon who intervenes with surgical procedures.

He continued to develop 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.

History of Chiropractic Profession in the United States

Before the Wilk versus the American Medical Association trial, many chiropractors were persecuted and even thrown in jail. Medical doctors were not allowed to associate with chiropractors as they were considered an “unscientific cult. 

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 worldwide. 

History of Chiropractic Profession in Hong Kong

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 “註冊脊醫 or “Registered Chiropractor.” 

History of Chiropractic Profession in Australia

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

History of Chiropractic Profession in Malaysia

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 come under the purview of the Federation of Complementary & Natural Medical Association, Malaysia (FCNMAM)

History of Chiropractic Profession in Taiwan

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. Taiwanese Chiropractors are still working towards legislation as of this writing.

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.” 

History of Chiropractic Profession in Singapore

Like Taiwan, Singapore is still not legislated or regulated, but the government allows chiropractic practice in Singapore. I hope chiropractic will become part of Singaporeans healthcare systems such as CHAS, MediSave, and MediShield

In Singapore, medical coverage for chiropractic is available only in some Accident Insurance and Travel Insurance policies. I recommend buying an accident or travel insurance that includes chiropractic treatments. Continue to pray for peace, harmony, and prosperity for our country. Be grateful for all things; it’s good for the soul.