The Story of the First Chiropractic Adjustment
Do you know the story of the first chiropractic adjustment? Many people think of a chiropractor as someone who manipulates or “cracks” the spine as a natural treatment for low back pain, neck pain, or headaches. And that is such a shame! It is a chiropractor’s own fault for marketing ourselves so poorly.
The potential of what chiropractors do - especially Upper Cervical chiropractors whose focus is on the upper bones in the neck - is so much greater than that. … Because the first chiropractic patient was deaf! He didn’t have back or neck pain. He was deaf and had his hearing restored after 17 years with one specific adjustment.
The Story of the First Chiropractic Adjustment
The date was September 18, 1895 in Davenport, Iowa in the USA. (Fun trivia: Davenport, IA is where Dr. Jeff went to high school, university and then chiropractic school).The first chiropractic adjustment helped a deaf man get his hearing back ... it had nothing to do with back or neck pain!
The man was named Harvey Lillard. Harvey was a janitor in the same building where a magnetic healer (like Reiki) named Daniel “DD” Palmer worked. DD had been practicing as a natural and magnetic healer for many years.
In chatting with Harvey for a period of time, he learned that the janitor had been deaf for 17 years after, “being in a stooped position many years ago, and feeling a sudden jolt in his neck.” After much convincing, DD persuaded Harvey to attend his practice for an assessment.
He discovered a massive bump in his neck at the level of the C2 vertebra. After even more convincing, DD persuaded Harvey to allow him to set or “rack” this bump back into place. Within 3 days, Harvey reported that his hearing was fully restored! That is the story of the first chiropractic adjustment.
The Story of the First Chiropractic Failure
With Harvey Lillard's remarkable recovery, DD Palmer realised that he discovered something profound … but not what he initially thought. You see, DD believed that he discovered the cure for deafness. And so what he did next - as was the custom of the day - was create a state-wide marketing campaign proclaiming that he had discovered “the cure for deafness!”
Sure enough, deaf people from across the state travelled to Davenport to experience this man’s new secret healing modality. The problem was that it didn’t always work! Among the deaf people who attended DD’s office, almost none of them experienced any improvements with their hearing. However, not all was lost because many of these same people experienced unexpected health improvements:
- People with chronic arthritis reported massive relief.
- People with debilitating migraines reported massive relief.
- People with chronic asthma reported massive improvements in breathing.
- People with the chronic disease of all kinds reported “being cured” when nothing they had ever done had worked before.
It did not take DD long to realise that he did not discover the cure for deafness at all. He realised instead that he had discovered that in specific adjusting of the spine that he had tapped into the innate healing potential that allows a human being to heal no matter what they have going on.
What Controls the Body?
Upper Cervical Chiropractic is focused on the clear connection between your brain and body at the master control centre - the C1 and C2 vertebrae. In the beginning, DD Palmer kept his discovery a close secret.
It took 2 years of continual pleading from his peers and his son, Bartlett Joshua “BJ” Palmer, who would take the helm of the young profession a few years later before DD reluctantly opened a school where we taught his new method.
Many of his first students where medical doctors and natural healers, including osteopaths.
People would later accuse DD of “stealing osteopathy” or “stealing natural bone-setting,” which had been in existence for decades, if not thousands of years before. In response, DD admitted that he was not the first person to manipulate the spine: only that he developed a new method to determine the source of interference to the “life flow” of the body and to adjust the spine in order to restore the normal “tone” so that the innate forces of the body would be able to heal the way that nature intended.
In an era when medical science still debated what controlled body function, DD based his science on the premise that is was the nervous system - brain and spinal cord - that is ultimately responsible for all body repair and health.
This tenant of chiropractic philosophy and science remains undisputed over 120 years later.
How does Chiropractic Work?
Many medical methods and even manipulative techniques focus on an “outside-in” approach. In other words, the purpose of treatment is to stimulate or inhibit the body so that certain unpleasant symptoms will go away. This is not how the body works.
The brain is a supercomputer with extraordinarily complex mechanisms still unknown. Therefore, any procedure intended to assist the body to heal is ultimately controlled by the subconscious or “innate” processes that occur within every human being.
The core difference in the philosophy of chiropractic is that it is an “inside-out” approach. The purpose of an adjustment is not to control, but to allow the natural healing forces that exist within the body to work the way that they are supposed to.
As much as we all expect symptoms to improve, as DD discovered with “the cure for deafness” that healing is a quantum process with many ups and downs, that requires time, and ultimately that is controlled by internal forces greater that no doctor can control from the outside-in.
Where does Chiropractic Work?
The Palmer Museum contains the re-creation of DD Palmer's office with the original bench where he adjusted Harvey Lillard. ... I'm sure you can imagine how uncomfortable that would have been! DD and his son BJ Palmer developed many of the early chiropractic methods that still exist today.
Long after DD’s death in 1913, BJ would go onto to develop what would become his enduring legacy: the Upper Cervical specific adjustment. For all the amazing stories that chiropractors have collected over the past 120 years, a huge majority of them involve specific adjusting of the top two vertebrae in the neck: the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2).
Observing this pattern in the early 1930s, BJ devoted the remainder of his life to mastering the philosophy, science, and art of upper cervical specific adjusting. You see, it is the brainstem that is at the level of C1 and C2 that ultimately commands all body processes.
The brain above gives executive commands, and the spinal nerves below transmit the messages, but it is the brainstem alone that is the master control system, which connects the two. That is the power of upper cervical chiropractic that still exists today and may still be traced all the way back to Harvey Lillard and that first chiropractic adjustment of a C2 vertebra.
The Bigness of Chiropractic Beyond the Adjustment
It is unfortunate that the public does not know the story of the first chiropractic adjustment. If they did, I believe that they would have a much better understanding of how care can actually help them maintain their health and wellbeing at the highest possible level so that they can enjoy the wonderful things in life that they actually want. Can you imagine what that would look like if …
- You could still be fighting fit and enjoying life to the fullest in your 80s and 90s?
- You could invest your time and money into your family, your business, and travel instead of just trying to get your health back?
- You could know that medical costs will actually go down, reducing taxpayer costs, and actually increasing the nation’s wealth?
I believe the reason that the public doesn’t know about the bigness of chiropractic is that many chiropractors have forgotten the profound importance of that first chiropractic adjustment.
That the healing potential of the human body is not limited to back and neck pain, but that a specific adjustment to the neck can restore the life flow from the brain to the rest of the body - from “above down, inside out.” I hope that this message finds you well.
But if you are like so many people wanting to maintain your health and the highest possible level or if you are looking for answers for a long-term problem that has disrupted the quality of your life then I would like you to reach out of us on this “Chiropractic Founders Day” - September 18th - that we may be able to help you find what you are looking for. Contact us at 3188 9329 or send us an email to find out how Upper Cervical care may be able to help you.