Where Does the Name Chiropractic Come From?

I’ll start this series of FAQs with the beginning of modern chiropractic. I have a list of some questions, but if you have one, or if any of these spark your interest please ask away. I will happily answer any questions that I can.  This one came from a family friend.

Regarding the name chiropractic; it is an original American word coined for the first time in 1898. It comes from the ancient Greek cheiros meaning hand + praktikos meaning practical. Usually translated to be “done by hand.” The term chiropractor was first recorded in American literature in 1904.

The origins of modern chiropractic come from the same time period. There have always been people who practice manual medicine. We all instinctively rub a sore spot, or bend or twist to get at that spot that just doesn’t feel right. Possible evidence of chiropractic has been found among ancient Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and other ancient civilizations. Similar to the story of medicine, from witch doctors to today. The modern version of chiropractic comes from D.D. Palmer a magnetic healer, who when working with a deaf man noted that a back bone was out of place. Upon hitting the bone back into place, the man could hear. That’s the story, fanciful as it may be. Thoughts, theories, and research have developed it from that point into what chiropractic is today. D.D. began teaching, and coined the term chiropractic himself. Practitioners of this art and science refer to themselves as chiropractors.

To submit your questions please just leave a comment, or send me an email. You can contact me here or at www.drduncanchiropractic.com


2 thoughts on “Where Does the Name Chiropractic Come From?

  1. Betsy Gordon

    Hi —

    VERY interesting! Thank you! I hadn’t heard that story before. I would be interested in learning your definition of “a magnetic healer” in addition. Would “magnetic healing” be something like the Healing Touch that has been incorporated into many Departments of Alternative Medicine in hospitals and health centers? Or would it involve the use of magnets — which is also pretty popular in some places?

    Best wishes,


  2. cmnacnud Post author

    Thanks for you many comments and questions. To clarify…magnetic healing in the late 1800s did not use magnets. Rather it focused on the forces within our own bodies, kind of like chi in Chinese medicine. It had a lot of massage, and some spiritual healing aspects. For many it was a way to escape having to go to the hospital, remember at that time you were more likely to die from going to the hospital than staying home. (Blood letting was still not unheard of at the time.) Though not very scientific magnetic healing seemed to help some people, of course so did staying home, or eating some citrus fruit.


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