Roots, man roots.

(Keywords: chiropractic history books, history books, WILK vs AMA, Joseph Janse, Chiropractic in Europe)

Chiropractic History Books trace the stories of men and women of great courage and the mark they left on our world. May they not be forgotten.

Whilst the science of chiropractic and its name date back to Daniel D. Palmer, writings, graphics and carvings concerning the art of spinal manipulation trace their way back nearly five thousand years into the mists of time.

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, himself used and advocated spinal manipulations and recognised that many diseases found their origins in the spine. “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite of many diseases,” said he.

Herodotus, another ancient Greek doctor, was made famous through his ability to cure many diseases. Far ahead of his time, by using spinal manipulation and rehabilitative exercise, he set a trend that reaches down to this day.

Galen, physician to several Caesars and the most prominent Roman physician, famously cured a prominent writer’s hand palsy by manipulating his neck.

Similarly, the ancient writings of manipulation may not be found in modern chiropractic history books, but it is alluded to from documents found throughout Indo China and Egypt and on to this day. If you go for a haircut in Turkey, you may well find your neck being manipulated at the same time!

This tradition of spinal manipulation was carried through the Dark Ages of Europe by so-called Bonesetters who almost certainly set fractures but also used manipulation. This tradition was taken to America by several bone-setters, the most prominent of whom was a man called Tieszen.

The chiropractic profession, however is a uniquely United States development which began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer announced his theory that spinal mal-alignment caused nerve pressure or irritation which in turn caused various kinds of disease. It is reported that his first patient, a Mr. Harvey Lillard was cured of deafness following an injury to the upper spine. Dr. Palmer “adjusted” his spine and, according to the historical account, Mr. Lillard’s hearing returned.

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"All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been, it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books. They are the choicest possessions of men."

- Thomas Carlyle, 1795 - 1881

Opposition: WILK vs AMA

Opposition to this new healing concept was vigorously pursued by the medical profession almost from the outset despite the fact that many of the pioneer chiropractors were medical physicians who later in the careers, recognising the value of manipulation, obtained chiropractic degrees. Many early chiropractors were gaoled for practising medicine without a licence.

That opposition reached its zenith in the sixties and seventies when the American Medical Association “antiquackery committee” made every effort to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession. Dr. Chester Wilk and three of his colleagues brought an antitrust suit against the AMA and many of its related organizations. This suit was won in 1987 and the AMA was required to cease and desist in its efforts to eliminate chiropractic and to stop restricting its members from interacting with chiropractic doctors. Since that time, there has been a significant upturn in research in chiropractic and especially in collaborative research between chiropractors and medical doctors, all of which ultimately benefit patients.

Read more … WILK-vs-AMA


While the early history of chiropractic is filled with many great healers, it was probably Joseph Janse who became the ‘Apostle of Chiropractic Education’, taking the profession from its shaky start to the fully accredited chiropractic education of today. Noted for his supreme intelligence and eloquent speech, and ability as an anatomist and radiologist, he became one of the pioneers of modern day chiropractic’s strong foundation in evidence-based care. A great believer in science and research, it was Janse who established chiropractic’s first accredited research journal.

The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.

JOSEPH JANSE, Apostle of Chiropractic Education, a biography written by Dr Reed Philips, traces the life of one of chiropractor's great Apostles. Highly recommended. JOSEPH JANSE ... A very welcome addition to our Chiropractic History Books.

"In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you."

Mortimer J. Adler


A fine text of this name was published in 2007 by Matador Publishers. Edited by Francis Wilson, the book traces the history of manipulation through Europe. Known as bone-setters in the United Kingdom, a rebouteux in France, a knocheneinrichter in Germany, in Spain an algebrista and in Denmark these traditional healers were called kloge folk.

Following our century long tradition, this one of our most beautifully bound chiropractic history books. It adds a depth of richness from a European perspective to our libraries. Tracing chiropractic through 19 European countries leaves one with a profound sense of gratitude to our forebears, reminding us that, while Chiropractic may be a uniquely American phenomenon, Palmer 'discovery' is firmly rooted in the tradition of millennia. For more information on CHIROPRACTIC IN EUROPE by Francis Wilson.


Rabid Dogs in the East was published in 2003 by iUniverse. It presents a heart warming story of the struggle for recognition in Hong Kong. Described as a gifted storyteller, Dr Bruce Vaughan, the first president of the Hong Kong Chiropractors Association, and Past President of WFC, describes the fascinating tale of the struggle against all the intrigue of institutional medicine. It is indeed astonishing how low educated and intelligent men will stoop when they perceive that their pedestals are threatened. Rabid Dogs!

One our great Chiropractic History Books, Rabid Dogs should be on the shelf of every chiropractor interested in the struggle of our profession. Un-put-downable!



This is not a Chiropractic History Book, but this page traces the 'struggle years' of Chiropractic South Africa, culminating in legislation as good as any in the world.

South Africa has two University Chiropractic programs.

Physical Therapists providing a Chiropractic adjustment?

Many insurance companies now only pay for physical therapists to provide a chiropractic adjustment; that's in the face of powerful research proving that inclusion of DCs to perform their own technique would save them a good deal of money. One has to conclude that political medicine has gone off on another tack to contain our profession.

It's being successful with some doctors of chiropractic quitting. Others become involved in some dodgy practices, like demanding that patients sign up for a whole year of treatment in advance, in order to stay in business.

In recessionary times, the going is tough when the insurance won't pay.

Is the day approaching for a new Wilk versus the AMA and the insurance companies?

The chiropractic profession has tried hard to stay on the moral high ground; those who stoop to unscrupulous practices need to be exposed and disciplined if we are not to stoop to the low blows that medicine has often resorted to contain and eliminate us.

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