Those holding to a “modern” and “enlightened” concept of chiropractic may well envision snake oil when confronted with the above claim. But for many people at the turn of the century this was a valid question. The speculation whirled around a magnetic healer in Davenport, Iowa, and his janitor.
The magnetic healer was Daniel David Palmer, known by his initials D.D., and the janitor was a man by the name of Harvey Lillard. In D.D.’s words:
Harvey Lillard, a janitor in the Ryan Block, where I had my office, had been so deaf for 17 years that he could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch. I made inquiry as to the cause of his deafness and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooping position, he felt something give way in his back and immediately became deaf. An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever and soon the man could hear as before (The Chiropractor’s Adjuster, Portland Printing House Co, Portland, 1910: 18).
This was the first modern chiropractic adjustment and the event that launched chiropractic as a profession. D.D. Palmer defined chiropractic as the “science, art and philosophy of things natural, and a system of adjusting the articulations (joints) of the spine, by hand only, for the removal of the physical cause of disease.”
Today’s concept of Chiropractic as a treatment only for low back pain, headaches and other musculoskeletal problems was alien to chiropractic patients of the early 1900s. They understood chiropractic to affect the whole body by the removal of interference to the nervous system.
We don’t know if any of Dr. Palmer’s subsequent patients were ever cured of deafness, but we do know of three Blair Chiropractors in the last two years who have had patients regain their hearing after beginning care.