History of chiropractic
Chiropractic was founded as a health profession in the US in 1895 by a Canadian called Daniel David Palmer, who had no conventional medical training.
Palmer argued that most human disease is caused by misalignments of the spine that apply pressure on surrounding nerves. He called these misalignments “subluxations” (a term also used in conventional medicine, where it has a different meaning) and believed that they blocked the flow of a natural energy, or “life force”, through the body. Correcting these subluxations, he argued, could restore the proper flow of energy, and so restore health. Thus, he saw chiropractic spinal manipulation as a treatment for 95% of all health conditions.
Since its early days, chiropractic has fought for acceptance as a legitimate health profession. In the early 20th century, Palmer came close to declaring chiropractic a religion, at least partly because of difficulties in obtaining legal rights to practise in the US.
More recently, elements within the profession have sought to place chiropractic on a more scientific footing through research to establish an evidence base for its principles and practice.
Today, Palmer’s ideas do not always form the basis on which chiropractors practise, but this varies widely between individual chiropractors. The GCC says the idea that subluxations are responsible for illness “is not supported by any clinical research evidence” and that this idea should be taught as a historical concept and not a current theoretical model.
Chiropractors, says the GCC, are “concerned with the framework of the muscles and bones that support the body (the musculoskeletal system)” and with treating health conditions by helping the musculoskeletal system to work properly.
Nonetheless, some UK chiropractors continue to claim that they can improve a range of health conditions by correcting subluxations.