1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chiropractic

CHIROPRACTIC, the name given to a method of healing employed in the United States, based on the theory that most disease is the result of displacement of the vertebrae of the spinal column, resulting in abnormal pressure upon the nerves as they emerge. It is held that the articular joints are frequently thrown out of alignment, it may be only in slight degree, and the constricted nerves are thereby prevented from transmitting to the various bodily organs the mental impulse necessary for proper functioning. The human body has been charted, and it is claimed that the nerves emanating above each vertebra regulate particular organs; hence the cause of different diseases can as a rule be readily localized. Health is possible only when all the organs function harmoniously, and disease of one organ may affect some other. The chiropractor attempts to find the subluxated joint, and with the bared hand to adjust it. He never resorts to drugs or surgery; he merely tries to relieve the impinged nerve and leaves the rest to nature.

The first reported healing by chiropractic was made in 1895, when Dr. D. D. Palmer (b. near Toronto, Canada, March 7 1845; d. at Los Angeles, Cal., Oct. 13 1913), a “magnetic healer,” in Iowa treated a man who had been deaf for 17 years. He claimed to have discovered that a displaced vertebra was pinching a certain nerve and that its adjustment was quickly followed by complete restoration of hearing. Little was done to work out a theory in detail until 1903, when Dr. B. J. Palmer (b. Sept. 10 1881), a son of the discoverer, began its formulation, resulting in the development of a well-defined system of articular adjustment with the hands. He established the Palmer School of Chiropractic (“Chiropractic Fountain Head”) at Davenport, Ia., which remained the best known, although later many others were founded in different parts of the United States. The course of study extends over three collegiate years of six months each, and the subjects studied correspond with those of the usual medical school, materia medica alone being ignored. In 1921 there were about 10,000 chiropractors to be found in some 30 of the United States. In several states they were still debarred from practice, and in others legislation was pending.