The History of Chiropractic

The word chiropractic comes from the Greek words Cheir meaning hand and Praktos meaning done, ‘done by hand’.  The name was chosen by the developer of chiropractic Daniel David Palmer (D.D. Palmer).

The roots of chiropractic care can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time. Writings from China and Greece written in 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. mention spinal manipulation and the manoeuvring of the lower extremities to ease low back pain.

The Greek physician Hippocrates, who lived from 460 B.C. to 370 B.C and also known also as the ’ father of medicine’ in one of his writings states ‘’Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite of many diseases’’.


Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer (D.D Palmer).

Picture – D.D Palmer.

Palmer performed his first chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard, a partially deaf janitor in September 1895.  He examined the area and gave an adjustment in the back to what he felt was a misplaced vertebra, which reportedly cured his deafness.  The effect of the spine on general health was investigated further by Palmer with him coming to the conclusion that if the spine was misaligned then the nerves around the spine can feel this impact and become more irritated which could lead to further health.


Chiropractic continued to develop further with the Palmer School of Cure, now known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic being established.


D.D. Palmers son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer assumed the responsibility of the school improving the standards for chiropractic education and increasing the appreciation for chiropractic worldwide.



B.J. Palmer’s wife, Mabel Heath Palmer, became the first woman to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.



The Universal Chiropractors Association was formed at Palmers College.



The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was set up in 1925 and is still the largest association in the UK.



The World federation of Chiropractic was formed (WFC)



The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) a Government regulated body was formed to ensure the safety of the patients.  Chiropractors have to be registered with the GCC before they can practise.



The World Federation of Chiropractic was admitted into official relations with the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a non-governmental organisation


Wardwell WI. Chiropractic. History and Evolution of a New Profession. St. Louis, Mosby, 1992a.

Moore JS . In: Chiropractic in America: the history of a medical alternative . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1993;p. 62.

Chiropractic history (1981). The archives & journal of the association for the history of chiropractic. Baltimore. MD.