The Surprising History of Chiropractic

How Was Chiropractic Discovered?

The first chiropractic adjustment was given by Daniel David “D.D.” Palmer to Harvey Lillard on September 18th,1895 in Davenport, Iowa, on the 4th floor of the Ryan Building at the corner of Second and Brady Streets. The first chiropractic patient was an African American man named Harvey Lillard. Mr. Lillard was the owner/operator of the janitorial company that maintained the building where Palmer had his office. Lillard had told Palmer that he had a lump on his back and that he had lost most of his hearing. Dr. Palmer described the incident as follows, “Harvey Lillard could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch. I made an inquiry as to the cause of his deafness and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooping position, he felt something “popped” in his back and he immediately lost his hearing.
An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever, and soon the man could hear as before.”

Palmer later wrote, “There was nothing accidental about this, as it was accomplished with an object in view, and the result expected was obtained. There was nothing crude about this adjustment; it was specific.” Although the act of replacing vertebrae into their proper position had been practiced for thousands of years, Palmer was the first to explain the connection between the interference these misaligned bones caused to the nerve system and interference to the functioning of the body.          


Wait… Does That Mean The First Chiropractic Patient Didn’t Have Back Pain?              

That is correct. Harvey Lillard was deaf and his hearing was restored. At first D.D. thought he had discovered a cure for deafness, but, as he later wrote, “Shortly after this relief from deafness, I had a case of heart trouble which was not improving. I examined the spine and found a displaced vertebra pressing against the nerves which innervate the heart. I adjusted the vertebra and gave immediate relief. Then I began to reason if two diseases, so dissimilar as deafness and heart trouble, came from impingement, a pressure on nerves, were not other diseases due to a similar cause?” Soon people were traveling far and wide to experience Dr. Palmer’s new discovery. D.D. had discovered a profession based on the premise that every part of the body works better with a proper nerve supply.


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