What is the biggest chiropractic myth? That chiropractic is for back pain.
Wait–isn’t chiropractic care for back pain? And aren’t chiropractors quite effective at helping people with back problems.
Well, no. And yes. Let’s see why by taking a trip back into history.
Every year right around the middle of September, many chiropractors and chiropractic colleges celebrate the birthday of chiropractic. September 18th is the date that D.D. Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment in Davenport, Iowa in 1895.
D.D. Palmer, was a self-taught anatomist, grocer, hobby-farmer, and magnetic healer. He claimed to be the first person (at least in the modern era) to use a short, gentle thrust to adjust a mispositioned vertebra back into position.
(Physicians and healers of all kinds have used the spine to create healing, from the time of the ancient Greeks.)
At this time, D.D. had a large magnetic healing practice in one of the tallest buildings in Davenport, Iowa. Before the era of modern antibiotics and safe and effective surgery, many people turned to magnetic healers for chronic health problems.
D.D. Palmer had many patients as a magnetic healer, but Harvey Lillard was his first patient using what would be become chiropractic care.
And Mr. Lillard, as the first chiropractic patient, wasn’t healed of back pain. Here is a testimonial from Harvey Lillard printed not long after his first chiropractic adjustments.
I was deaf 17 years, and expected always to remain so, for I had doctored a great deal without any benefit. I had long ago made up my mind not to take any more ear treatments, for it did me no good.
…Dr. Palmer told me that my deafness came from an injury to my spine. This was news to me: but it is a fact that my back was injured at the time I went deaf. Dr. Palmer treated me on the spine. In two treatments I could hear quite well. That was eight months ago. My hearing remains good.
–Harvey LillardBased on Mr. Lillard’s healing, Dr. Palmer thought he had found the cure for deafness. He didn’t. But after experimenting with other patients, D.D. learned that he had found something better.
D.D. Palmer had discovered a way to remove nervous system stress and irritation coming from the spine. In Harvey Lillard that stress had caused deafness. In others it causes vertigo, migraine, or seizures. Still in others, it affects their mood, their sleep, and their hormones.
And yes. For many, it creates spine tension and back pain.
So chiropractors, especially with their long education on the anatomy, physiology, and mechanism of injury in the spine, are quite good at helping people with back pain. But chiropractic care isn’t only about back pain. It’s ultimately about having a healthy spine, and therefore a healthy nervous system. And all the good things that happen when the nervous system is communicating as it should be.