The History of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care has a rich and interesting history, which dates all the way back to 1895 with Daniel David Palmer. Today, chiropractic is a diverse profession with a great many different specialisations, so it’s not always easy to pin down what a typical chiropractor actually does. There is certainly common ground, though.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of chiropractic care in detail.


Daniel David Palmer

A curious man with a keen interest in metaphysics, phrenology and spiritualism, Daniel David Palmer was the first person to codify the practice of spinal manipulation by hand into a holistic philosophy.

He reportedly began developing this practice after improving a man’s hearing by simply manipulating his neck. From there, Palmer coined the term “chiropractic”, a combination of the Greek words “cheiro” (hand) and “praktos” (done) to refer to his theory and, in 1897, established the Palmer School of Cure, now known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, where it remains today.neck pain


Subluxation Theory

Palmer’s philosophy hinges on the idea that all bodily ailments are caused by subluxation: small spinal misalignments that compress the nerves. Parallel to this, Palmer also accepts the vitalistic notion that health stems from the flow of a spiritual life force. This force, Palmer argued, flowed from the brain to the rest of the body via the spinal cord. Consequently, if subluxation occurred in the spine, the flow would be disrupted, resulting in degeneration, illness and disease.

This is where chiropractic comes in: in order to reverse subluxation and realign the spine, it must be carefully manipulated, allowing the lifeforce – or “innate intelligence”, as Palmer termed it – to flow undisrupted through the body.


Chiropractic Today: Straights And Mixers

Deeply rooted in spiritualism, much of what Palmer taught throughout his career runs contrary to modern theories regarding health, medicine and scientific method, which has led to a schism in the field. Where you stand in the debate ultimately depends on how closely you follow Palmer’s philosophy. There are two main camps.

Straights: A divisive camp of chiropractors who adhere strictly to Palmer’s vitalistic theory, believing that any and all ailments can be cured through spinal manipulation. Once freely flowing, they firmly believe innate intelligence to have limitless healing power. Straight chiropractors advocate a philosophical basis for healthcare and feel chiropractic is incompatible with modern medicine.

Straight chiropractors, however, aren’t all that common. A much more common camp:

Mixers: The majority group, mixers advocate a form of chiropractic care which is aided and informed by science; the two disciplines are compatible and can cooperate professionally. Mixers often incorporate other therapies into their treatments, too, such as homoeopathy, acupuncture, massage and physical therapy. In a sense, mixers can be viewed as multidisciplinary healthcare professionals.

Despite their differences, there are key principles at the core of chiropractic care common to both mixers and straights. These are as follows:

  • The correction of spinal misalignment is at the heart of their practice.
  • They value prevention and healthy lifestyle habits.
  • They strongly prefer natural therapies over drugs and surgery.


Here at Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic, we do all we can to remedy a range of ailments through the skilled and effective spinal manipulation of backs and necks. As a result of the skill and know-how of our fully trained, highly knowledgeable chiropractors, our clients notice quick and often life-changing improvements in their overall health for the long-term. If you think that our services could have a positive impact on your life, then get in touch with us today.