Did you know that chiropractors were once put in jail?
It’s true. Like most professions that are newly emerging, people were extremely skeptical of chiropractors during the early 1900’s. It was a very recent profession then, only about 20-some years old. As such, people didn’t really understand it, and so there was widespread opposition to it throughout the United States.
Just like how the development of vaccines gave rise to the anti-vax movement from people who objected to such an idea of injecting yourself with a foreign body even though it was proven to help boost immunity; just like people were terrified of anesthesia when it was a new discovery – so much so that it was banned in several Philadelphia hospitals for years after the first successful surgery with it in America – in spite of being an effective pain-reliever; and just like pretty much everything new and unheard of, medical or not, has been vehemently protested throughout history, so too was chiropractic care.
To understand how the 1918 pandemic influenced the history of chiropractic care, let’s look at how chiropractic care originated in the first place.
When Did Chiropractic Care Originate?
Chiropractic care has technically been around for centuries, with cultures around the world using manipulation practices to treat issues. Ancient Greece has records of such practices, with Hippocrates stating, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”
Officially, however, chiropractic care originated back in 1895 with a chiropractor by the name of Daniel David Palmer in Iowa. A Canadian man living in the United States, Palmer felt that the spine was strongly connected with the rest of the body, and that spine misalignment would cause problems in other parts of the body.
Palmer was originally a practicing magnet therapist before he performed the first recorded chiropractic adjustment. One of the janitors who worked in his building, Harvey Lillard, was partially deaf and had told Palmer how the deafness started years before, when he’d bent over wrong, and his spine “popped”.
Palmer believed there was a relationship between the two events, and when examining Lillard’s spine, he found that one of the vertebrae was out of place. He performed a spinal manipulation, and Lillard’s hearing came back.
With Palmer’s discovery, it gave rise to the practice of chiropractic care. He began teaching others about his methods in spite of the opposition he was met with by those who couldn’t comprehend it and called it invalid. The same way people did for vaccines, anesthesia, and everything new, they didn’t believe in the validity of chiropractic care in spite of proven results of its effectiveness.
Enter the swine flu pandemic of 1918.
The 1918 Pandemic And Chiropractic
The swine flu pandemic was deadly. It swept across the world, and without a vaccine to protect against it, it is estimated that about one third of the world’s population was infected. With how there was no vaccine and there weren’t any antibiotics to treat the secondary infections associated with the flu, treatments were limited to more basic efforts such as isolation, good personal hygiene, and limitations of gatherings.
With how there was no known treatment at the time, death rates soared and people were desperate to do whatever they could to protect against it. Some decided to go to chiropractors.
Chiropractors noticed that in general, if your spine is in alignment, you are likely to be healthier, and healthier people stand a better chance against disease than those with health problems. They advertised their services and people did indeed notice the same results people notice from chiropractic care today.
This is to say that they noticed how they felt healthier and more capable, and with how your central nervous system is in the spine, issues resulting from spinal issues resolved with chiropractic care.
There was backlash to chiropractic care, however, with some getting jailed for practicing medicine without a license and for promoting illegitimate medical practices. In some cases, this was valid, as there were some chiropractors who claimed that they could treat issues that doctors couldn’t and that people should see them for the flu instead of doctors.
Some chiropractors claimed that they had far lower death rates for those who did come to them for flu symptoms instead of the doctors. This ignored the fact that chiropractic was a very recent practice, so they weren’t receiving anywhere near as many patients as doctors, as well as the fact that the vast majority of people who are sick would see a doctor, not a chiropractor. It also ignored the fact that their death and success rates were largely self-reported, which is an unreliable method of gaining accurate numbers.
However, chiropractic care did indeed have many benefits, in spite of the pushback trying to invalidate how spinal manipulation could indeed help treat some issues resulting from the spine and other joint problems. It is because of these very real benefits that become more common knowledge due to the fact that rates of chiropractic care increased during the pandemic that chiropractic care became recognized as a legitimate treatment method.
Since the results of spinal manipulation became more widely known in the 1918 pandemic, chiropractic care became legitimized with a licensing exam in 1923, where 38 out of 41 applicants to become licensed practitioners of chiropractic passed.
Chiropractic Care And You
As you can see, chiropractic care has had an interesting history. It has many benefits and has been recognized as a legitimate treatment method. Chiropractors are no alternate for a medical doctor when it comes to diseases, but it is true that chiropractors can help with an abundance of issues and that sometimes, like Hippocrates said, like Palmer found, some issues are indeed found in the spine.
It doesn’t hurt to see a chiropractor in addition to a medical doctor. You may even end up surprised sometimes. For example, a chiropractor can help a pregnant person have a smooth birth through making sure their pelvis is in alignment. A chiropractor can help with blurred vision, because if you had a car accident, that can throw your neck out of alignment, which can impact your optic nerves.
Chiropractors can provide an excellent treatment option for pain and injury that can get to the root of the issue rather than just covering it up. And while your central nervous system may not control everything in your body, it does affect everything in your body. If you’ve ever suffered from back pain, you know exactly how that affects how you walk, sit, stand, and sleep.
Are You Considering Chiropractic Care?
Here at Grant Chiropractic, we know the many benefits of chiropractic care. We know how the spine can be at the root of many issues, and we want to help you with them by getting to the root of them. If you’re considering chiropractic care or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Grant Chiropractic today!