What Early Chiropractors “Treated.”

Chiropractic Journal of Australia June 2005;35(2):57-70.

ABSTRACT: Chiropractic in Australia today is a registered profession with portal of entry status and deals primarily with musculoskeletal conditions, particularly mechanical low back pain and cervicogenic headaches. This paper attempts to determine what types of cases our pioneer chiropractors managed. It was found that although chiropractors were few in numbers and therefore relatively unknown, they successfully managed a wide range of cases, usually after medical intervention, often by specialists, had failed.

COMMENTS: If the early chiropractors limited themselves to “uncomplicated” musculoskeletal conditions, our profession would not have achieved the success that it has had. This study, as well as the polio history in the same issue of the Australian association, documents chiropractic’s success in helping those with serious neurological and organic conditions, that is, the “Type O” disorders.

The authors describe various cases that D.D. Palmer had written about. These include asthma, exophthalmic goiter, and phantom pain (Civil War veteran who lost a leg in the war). Many other conditions were listed with names and addresses of the individuals at the Palmer Infirmary. B.J. Palmer described and listed numerous organic, psychological, and neurological conditions that would benefit from chiropractic care with descriptions of infantile paralysis and locomotor ataxia, among other conditions. The authors include a patient seen by B.J. Palmer who suffered from a loss of sight. After a series of adjustments to C4 and T6, began to regain his sight to complete clarity. This was patient monitored by a MD who followed the patient’s progress.

The article continues on cases reported by other chiropractors around the U.S. of paralysis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, appendicitis, mental conditions, influenza, etc. Cases written up by Australian chiropractors were found. One was a zoo orangutan that recovered from paralysis of the lower limbs. Other cases where the patient recovered after chiropractic adjustments that found their way into print were chronic asthma, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, deformed foot, chronic dysentery, and epilepsy. Some of the descriptions of recovery of individuals of significant health problems through chiropractic care ended up in the Australian parlimentary proceeding, especially during debates for chiropractic legalization in the late 1930s. Australian chiropractors made headline news in the 1920s and 1930s.

It is wonderful to see articles like these on the history of chiropractic, particularly in relationship to serious, non-musculoskeletal conditions. Unfortunately, many chiropractic students are probably poorly exposed to this information.