Skip to content

Discovery of Chiropractic Health Care

The discovery of “modern” chiropractic health care occurred just over a century ago in Davenport, Iowa, by a Canadian immigrant named Daniel David “DD” Palmer.However, the principles of spinal care and adjustment date back thousands of years.

  • The earliest records on tissue manipulation date to 2700 B.C.
  • Later documentation indicates spinal techniques were used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Indian cultures in North and South America.
  • Among the books written by Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, two were: On Setting Joints by Leverage and Manipulation and Its Importance to Good Health.
  • In the late Middle Ages, spinal manipulation and bone-setting became very popular.

Yet, until September 18, 1895, when DD Palmer restored a deaf man’s hearing using “vertebral manipulation,” this treatment procedure was never really refined – or even named.

Prior to his discovery, Palmer practiced “magnetic healing,” a technique that involved restoring a patient to health using external magnetic fields. One day, Palmer learned that the janitor in his office, Harvey Lillard, had suddenly lost his hearing after feeling a pop in his lower neck area. The injury occurred 17 years earlier, when Lillard was cleaning in a stooped position.

Intrigued, Palmer asked Lillard if he could examine the injured area. One of the vertebra felt twisted out of position compared to the other bones above and below. Palmer had a theory: if he could undo the original injury by realigning the vertebra, maybe Lillard’s hearing would be restored.

Sure enough, after Palmer’s “adjustment,” Lillard jumped up from the examination table and declared, “Dr. Palmer, I can hear again!” And following several more adjustments, Lillard’s hearing was completely restored within a week.

Word of DD Palmer’s success spread quickly, and although he couldn’t improve everyone’s hearing, he did notice that many other health problems began to respond to this treatment. That’s when he began to refine his methods and techniques, and asked a friend to help him name this type of medical care.

Combining the Greek words “chiro ” meaning hand, and “practos” meaning done by, they coined the term chiropractic, which literally translates to “done by hand.”

DD Palmer’s history-making discovery and further developments grew into the renowned Palmer School of Chiropractic, where the science and philosophy of this medical revolution has been tested, proven and taught to thousands of chiropractors over the last 100-plus years.

It wasn’t a miracle, but the results for Harvey Lillard – and countless other patients since – have been miraculous indeed.


Chiropractor, Toledo | ABA Family Chiropractic | (419) 535-7818

Chiropractic Websites by Perfect Patients.