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Palmer

D.D. Palmer's Great Discovery: The Chiropractic Adjustment

It was September 18, 1895 and at the time Dr. Palmer was trying to understand the cause and effect of disease. His patient, Harvey Lillard, was a janitor working in the same building as Dr. Palmer in Davenport, Iowa. Mr. Lillard had been bent over under the stairs, hurt his back and had complained of hearing problems as a result for over 17 years. He allowed Dr. Palmer to examine his spine to see if anything could be done. Dr. Palmer discovered a "lump" on Mr. Lillard's back and suspected that a vertebra might be out of "alignment" and "pinching" a nerve going to Mr. Lillard's ears.

With an admittedly unrefined chiropractic technique, Dr. Palmer adjusted the vertebra with a gentle thrust. Lillard was excited to hear noises from the street below. After several such treatments, much of Mr. Lillard's hearing was completely restored. Chiropractic was born.

To quote Dr. Palmer:
"An examination (of Harvey Lillard) showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man's hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever, and soon the man could hear as before. There was nothing accidental about this, as it was accomplished with an object in view, and the result expected was obtained. There was nothing crude about this adjustment; it was specific."

This dramatic beginning caused much excitement. Soon exaggerated claims surfaced from activists and chiropractic zealots. Even Dr. Palmer himself thought at first that he had discovered a cure for deafness. As these "miracle" stories became commonplace, the controversy surrounding chiropractic began. While it might have been reasonable for chiropractors and their patients to assume major diseases had been "cured", in many cases the problem was an error in the original diagnosis. The doctor making the diagnosis may have assumed the patient had a heart problem when in fact the pain in the patient's chest resulted from a rib sprain.

Chiropractor adjusting patient

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