Though the practice of chiropractic is relatively recent in terms of medical treatment, its theory has ancient roots. Hippocrates advised physicians to “get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” Despite this admonishment, the theory of the proper alignment of the spine as being integral to good health did not come into practice until the magnetic healer Daniel David Palmer healed someone by performing a spontaneous spinal adjustment in 1895.

According to the story, Harvey Lillard, a janitor in his office, was working late one night when a particularly noisy fire engine passed by. Palmer noticed that Lillard had not reacted at all, so tried to speak with him, at which point he realized the man was deaf. Lillard related that although he had enjoyed perfect hearing for most of his life, he had been deaf for the past 17 years after he had been working stooped over and heard a “pop” in his back. When he straightened up he discovered he had suddenly become deaf.

When Palmer ran his hand down Lillard’s spine he noticed that one of Lillard’s vertebrae was out of place. He wrote later in his medical journal, “I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half hour’s 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.” And thus the first chiropractic adjustment was performed.

Palmer coined the term “chiropractic” from the Greek terms “chiro” (hand) and “practic” (practice). Though Palmer established the first school of chiropractic, the Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic, in 1898 to a public eager to explore alternative medicine, it met with a significant amount of opposition, primarily from the traditional medical establishment. The American Medical Association (AMA) accused Palmer of practicing medicine without a license, and was jailed for 17 days.chiropractic history and origin

D. D. Palmer’s son, B. J. Palmer, took over the school from his father in 1906 and increased the student enrollment. B. J. maintained that chiropractors did not diagnose or treat disease, but rather “analyzed” the situation and performed “adjustments” of spinal subluxations. This did not appease the AMA, who continued for decades to discredit the practice and harass its practitioners both socially and legally.

Finally, in its landmark 1987 ruling in the case of Wilk vs. AMA, the court ruled that the AMA had “engaged in unreasonable restraint of trade and conspiracy,” effectively putting an end to the AMA’s witch hunt. A number of studies done in recent decades have shown the effectiveness of chiropractic, particularly in cases of low back pain, neck pain and headaches.

Today’s Walnut Creek chiropractors continue D. D. Palmer’s commitment to establishing a relationship with their patients and treating them in a holistic way that eases pain and restores quality of life without the use of drugs or surgery.

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New Consumer Reports Data Highlight Patients’ Satisfaction with Chiropractic Care

When it comes to making important choices about treatment options for back pain, it’s worth looking at the experiences of others who have found something that works. In recent years, the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center has surveyed the magazine’s subscribers to do just that. In April and May 2009, Consumer Reports released some of its findings publicly. A summary appears below.

chiropractic patients' satisfactionAbout the Survey Participants

  • More than 14,000 participants who had suffered from lower-back pain in the prior year but had never had back surgery.
  • More than half reported that pain severely limited their daily routine for a week or longer.
  • Many reported that pain interfered with sleep, sex and efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
  • 88% reported that the pain recurred through the year.
  • Most had tried five or six different treatments.

How Respondents Ranked the Healthcare Providers Who Had Treated Them

Healthcare Provider Percent Who Were Highly Satisfied
With Treatment and Advice*
Physical Therapist+
Physician, Specialist
Physician, Primary Care

*Defined as either Completely Satisfied or Very Satisfied.
+Difference in ranking for Physical Therapist and Acupuncturist were not statistically significant.

How Respondents Ranked Selected Back Pain Therapies

Therapy Percentage Who Reported that the
Therapy Helped a Lot
Chiropractic Manipulation
Prescription Drugs
Over-the-Counter Drugs


In July 2011, Consumer Reports published an updated report describing how Americans use alternative approaches to healthcare as well as their experience with various therapies and their providers. Chiropractic care once again was reported to be the most popular approach to back pain relief and was ranked most highly in terms of patient satisfaction.

How Your Chiropractic Physician Can Help Relieve Back Pain

Your Doctor of Chiropractic can help relieve back pain and restore mobility by using a drug-free, hands-on technique called “spinal manipulation” or “chiropractic adjustment”. He or she may also use other manual therapies, such as massage, to complement this primary treatment. In addition, many chiropractors are skilled in designing exercise and nutrition programs for their patients that will help their bodies resist injury and function properly. By focusing on both immediate pain relief and the underlying causes of back pain, your chiropractor can help you achieve a healthier overall lifestyle.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from back pain, call your local Walnut Creek chiropractor today.



Relief for your aching back: What Worked for Our Readers. Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. April-May 2009. Accessed August 2011.

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Chiropractic patient results can vary. At the SPINE Chiropractic Center in Alamo, CA, a lot of patients report spineimproved spinal curves and the overall resumption of their usual lifestyles. People who have taken for granted or delayed seeking care usually experience slower progress. Once the first care plan is completed, patients realize that regular chiropractic checkups helps prevent a relapse.

Dr. T.J. Meyer of the SPINE Chiropractic Center can be reached at 925-939-7778 should you have more questions.

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