A short history of Chiropractic

It all began at the end of the 19th century when a healer by the name of Daniel Palmer from Davenport (USA) shouted at the caretaker because his hearing was so bad.

One day the man felt a crack in his neck while he was bending down and from that point onwards he was almost deaf.

Palmer put the vertebra back into place (it is said that he gave him a thick ear) after which the caretaker could hear properly again. That was the legendary beginning of Chiropractic.

Chiro-practic means to use the hands ( and is therefore a treatment in the true sense of the word).
In the course of time different directions and schools have developed which are all based on Palmer’s work. “Bone breakers” were known In the middle ages and “bone setters” were highly respected members of the English Royal Court.

Chiropractic first came to Germany after the second world war and was mostly practised by Naturopaths (Heilpraktiker). This therapy form was frowned upon by orthodox medicine and it was much later before the “manual therapy” was adopted by a few osteopaths. Even today there is a distinction made between Chiropractic practised by specially trained Naturopaths and Chirotherapy which is practised by members of the medical profession.

The criticism is partially justified. Not all chiropractic movements are purposeful or specific. This therapy is also not suited to the lay person, as it requires a very good understanding of basic anatomy as well as knowledge of the structure of individual vertebrae and joints. It is an old wives tale to suggest that Chiropractic “wears out” the joints.

A good Chiropractor examines his patient thoroughly, identifies the painful areas on the spine and notes the result of his diagnosis as well as the chiropractic therapy. In difficult cases e.g. slipped discs, whiplash or damage to the vertebrae an x-ray is essential and the Chiropractor recognises his limitations.

The Dr. W. P. Ackermann (Stockholm) method represents a further development and reorganisation of American Chiropractic. This entails a very specific diagnosis and just as specific Chiropractic treatment. The therapist knows exactly what he wishes to achieve with each movement as well as the consequence of each movement. Accidental or jerky movements no longer arise here.

Chiropractic cannot heal everything; however at the right moment and after a clear diagnosis immediate success can be achieved.

Prevention is also important. The structure of the skeleton should be checked regularly and re-aligned where necessary before pain and damage even arise.

The so-called pelvic tilt which leads to an optical but not a physical shortening of leg length has an effect on the entire spine. Chiropractic can be used as a preventive here. Unfortunately shoe inlays or the building up of shoe soles which are so often prescribed have the tragic effect of stabilising the incorrect position of the spine.

We know the segments or organ areas along the spine from neural therapy. Twisted or tilted vertebrae can have a detrimental influence on the whole body.

Pain in shoulders, arms and fingers can stem from the cervical vertebrae.
“Heart complaints” can be caused by a structural problem in the thoracic spine; chronic pain is typical here (care should be taken to exclude heart attacks), especially when resting, or an increase in pain on moving the arms. Pain when bending or twisting points to problems in the lumbar spine. Vertebral joint problems in the lumbar spine area are responsible for 90% of all cases where blockages occur through herniated discs. In such cases Chiropractic can achieve miracles. Care should however be taken when an actual slipped disc is indicated.


Inflammatory-infectious processes such as TB or sepsis
Destructive processes such as tumours or metastasis
Degenerative processes such as osteoporosis, disturbance in calcium metabolism etc.
Care should also be taken when cortisone has been taken over a long period, as this also leads to osteoporosis.
Fractures, fissures, pulled ligaments and damage to bones, muscles and ligaments; congenital abnormalities.

Translation by Christine McLean (Thank you !)

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