This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
The best known and most widely used alternative therapy in the United States today, chiropractic focuses on the manipulation of the spine and other joints to help treat a variety of problems involving bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Chiropractors primarily use their hands to apply pressure to a joint or group of joints. (In fact, the name "chiropractic" is derived from Greek words meaning "done by hand.") This treatment is known as an "adjustment" or a "manipulation." The aim of using manipulation is to provide relief for pain or stiffness, and to improve posture as well as the function of nerves, joints, and muscles.
Spinal manipulation has been practiced for thousands of years; there are records of it from ancient Egypt and China. The birth of modern chiropractic, however, is often cited as September 18, 1895, the date that Daniel David ("D. D.") Palmer, a grocer and apprentice of magnetic healing in Davenport, Iowa, reportedly restored hearing to a man who had been deaf for 17 years, simply by adjusting misaligned vertebrae.
In the years that followed, Palmer founded the first chiropractic school and refined his discipline, becoming convinced that pinched nerves caused by misalignments of the vertebrae were responsible for nearly all disease. His work remains the foundation of many aspects of chiropractic today.