In 1895, Daniel David Palmer, who would become the first chiropractor, successfully treated the hearing loss of Harvey Lillard by manipulating one of the vertebrae in his spine. Some say that Palmer “discovered” chiropractic quite by accident when he clapped Lillard on the back after telling a joke, and Lillard found that his hearing had improved; others, that Palmer had studied with the founder of osteopathy, Dr. A. T. Still, and had adapted his osteopathy manipulative therapy into what would become the chiropractic adjustment.
However, the history of spinal manipulation reaches far back into antiquity. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, and Hua Tuo, the father of Eastern medicine, both used spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Traditional “bonesetters” were common folk physicians in both the Orient and in Europe. It wasn’t until the late 19th century, however, that the practice was systematized.
While the early relationship between the medical and chiropractic professions was quite adversarial, in a little over 100 years, chiropractic has become the largest and most widely accepted complementary health care system in the world.