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Although chiropractic as we know it is just over 115 years old, spinal manipulation dates back to ancient civilizations. Reports of manipulative therapy were recorded in China as early as 2700 B.C. Hippocrates, the "father of medicine," used spinal manipulation around the fourth century B.C. to reposition vertebrae and to heal other ailments. Galen, a renowned Greek physician who practiced in Rome during the second century A.D., used spinal manipulation. Ambroise Paré, who is sometimes called the "father of surgery," helped patients with chiropractic methods in France in the 16th century. These "bone-setting" techniques were passed down through the centuries through family tradition. They can be found in the folk medicine of many countries. In 1843, Dr. J. Evans Riadore, a physician, studied the irritation of spinal nerves and recommended spinal manipulation as a treatment.

Daniel D. Palmer, an American, founded the system of chiropractic in 1895. He also coined the term chiropractic, which comes from the Greek words "praxis" and "cheir," meaning to practice, or treat, using one's hands. Palmer believed that deviations of the spinal column, or subluxations, were the cause of practically all disease and that chiropractic adjustment was the cure. Like many others who have tried to change the practice of medicine, Palmer encountered strong opposition from the medical establishment. He and other early chiropractors were imprisoned for practicing medicine without a license. In spite of the hardships, he and his followers persevered because of the success of their treatments in alleviating pain and promoting health. Their treatments at times had exceptionally positive results.

In spite of their successful work and a growing number of supporters, chiropractors were attacked by the medical establishment because they had little scientific research to support their claims. In the 1970s, Dr. Chang Ha Suh, Ph.D., a Korean immigrant who was working at the University of Colorado, conducted studies that provided extensive scientific research related to chiropractic. Since then, numerous important studies have added to the research and to the credibility of chiropractic.

While chiropractors have used spinal adjustments to successfully treat back and neck ailments, some of these professionals also use these techniques to ease other conditions. For example, a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension showed that patients who had their spines realigned lowered their blood pressure.

Today, chiropractic is the third largest primary health care profession in the United States. Many quality schools of chiropractic exist, and doctors of chiropractic are licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Chiropractic is one of the fastest growing health care professions in the country.

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