Home / Health News / News Detail

March 01, 2012

The History of Upper Cervical. Share Our Past & Celebrate The Future.

This is the perfect opportunity to share our past and celebrate the future. As you may already know, Upper Cervical Care is a rapidly growing form of natural healthcare that has helped millions of people regain and maintain optimal health, but where did it all begin?

The profession of chiropractic dates back to 1895 but the roots of spinal care can be traced back to 2700 B.C. Some of the earliest healers in the history of the world understood the relationship between health and the condition of the spine. Hippocrates, the Greek physician and “Father of Medicine” published texts detailing the importance of spinal care writing, "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases". Herodotus, a contemporary of Hippocrates, gained fame curing diseases by correcting spinal abnormalities.

Thomas Edison noted, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Despite the long history of spinal related treatments, most were crude and misunderstood until D.D. Palmer made the first spinal adjustment in 1895. D.D. had been practicing magnetic healing for a number of years prior to founding chiropractic but contrary to what the name suggests, it had nothing to do with magnets. Rather it was a cross between massage and meridian therapies, which is based upon the concepts of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, a common therapy of the time and still practiced today (under different disciplines).

D.D. Palmer was interested in finding the true cause(s) of disease. He wanted to know why two people who lived in the same house, drank the same water, breathed the same air and often had the same parents, could have two dramatically different constitutions, one being healthy and free of disease and the other sickly. Palmer felt that there must be something other than environmental factors or bad luck that influenced an individual’s health. On September 18, 1895, D.D. Palmer would have the chance to prove his theory. Contrary to what many people believe, the first chiropractic patient didn’t have back or neck pain. He was deaf! Harvey Lillard, a janitor in the same building where Palmer operated his practice, had been deaf for 17 years.

After inquiring as to the cause of his deafness, Mr. Lillard conveyed that he had exerted himself in a cramped, stooped position, felt something give way in his neck and immediately became deaf. Upon examination, Palmer noticed a vertebra out of its normal position. He reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should return and in fact, after three visits, Mr. Lillard’s hearing was restored. At first, Palmer believed he had discovered the cure for deafness. Word of Palmer’s success in “curing” deafness traveled fast. Soon deaf people from across the country were awaiting his miraculous treatment. Although he had some success in helping those with hearing loss he soon realized that many other conditions were benefiting from the same treatment.

Over the succeeding months, patients came to Palmer with every conceivable problem including sciatica, migraine headaches, stomach complaints, epilepsy, rheumatism, and heart trouble. D.D. Palmer found each of these conditions responded well to the adjustments which he was calling “hand treatments.” The term “chiropractic” was first coined by D.D. Palmer’s close friend, the Reverend Samuel H. Weed. The term chiropractic was taken from the two Greek words--cheir (chiro), meaning “hand” and praxis (practic), meaning “practice”. Thus chiropractic means “done by hand”. In 1898 Palmer renamed his clinic the Palmer School and Infirmary and took on his first chiropractic students. Among some of the first graduates was D.D’s son B.J Palmer. B.J. Palmer would become the most significant figure in chiropractic’s first fifty years. He took over the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1902 and eventually renamed the Palmer School of Chiropractic. Given the amazing results produced by early chiropractic, the PSC exploded and enrollment reached 3,000 students by the mid 1920’s. Known as the Developer of Chiropractic, his contributions included extensive research, improved methods of spinal adjusting and analysis, higher standards for chiropractic education, and increased appreciation for chiropractic worldwide.

B.J. battled for chiropractic on many legal and legislative fronts and well before his death in 1961, chiropractic had secured a place among the health sciences. Dr. B. J. Palmer was a meticulous researcher and in order to further the advancement of the profession, he worked tirelessly to uncover the scientific basis of chiropractic. He spent thousands of hours in his osteological (bone) laboratory studying the specimens to see what Innate did under anomalous, pathological and traumatic living conditions. By 1910 there he had collected nearly 10,000 skeletal elements in the collection. The collection was known to the professors of anatomy in many of the nearby state medical colleges and was often studied by them to better qualify them for carrying on their lecture work in their own classes. It was acknowledged by the Council on Medical Education to be “without doubt, the best collection of human spines in existence” and grew to contain over 25,000 specimens valued at over $350,000 in 1956.

In 1908, B.J. Palmer published the first volume of what would become a series of 39 textbooks on the Science, Art and Philosophy of chiropractic. These volumes are known as the “green books" and are still used in many chiropractic colleges today. Dr. Palmer became a pioneer in imaging technology and was the first person in the world to x-ray the spine. In 1910, he introduced the new x-ray imaging technology or, as he called it, “spinography” into the Palmer curriculum. This greatly improved the science and accuracy of chiropractic care. By the early 1920’s, the profession had been through many trials and tribulations. Procedures had been researched and reworked but there were still too many variables or inconsistencies among practicing doctors. Another major breakthrough came with the development of the neurocalometer (NCM) in 1923. The NCM replaced the old method of palpation or feeling the spine to determine if or where a subluxation exists. The BJ Palmer Research Center was in operation for sixteen years from 1935-1951. In 1935, it was estimated that the equipment in the Research Center was worth well over $1,000,000.00.

Dr. B.J. Palmer thoroughly researched spinal techniques that were most effective in restoring health. In the beginning, he employed the same method that his father had used by adjusting up and down the spine. Eventually, through extensive research, he determined that correcting subluxations in the upper cervical spine produced the most consistent and reliable results for health to return. Both chiropractors and medical doctors alike sent their toughest cases to this research center. There were over 5,000 cases of the worst conditions imaginable. Medical doctors were employed to perform a battery of 127 tests on each patient (including blood work and urinalysis) before, during and after upper cervical care to document the results and physiological changes. And the results were astounding! Dr. Charles Mayo, physician, surgeon, and co-founder of the famed Mayo Brothers Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, brought his wife to the BJ Palmer Research Center for care.

The Mayo’s had tried every medical intervention but all treatment had failed. Mrs. Mayo received upper cervical care for several months and went home well. A skeptical Dr. Mayo stated it was impossible for her to get well with what Palmer did, yet he also admitted she was well. After this incident the Mayo Clinic routinely referred patients to Research Center for care. B.J. Palmer died in 1961. At the time of his death, B.J. Palmer was known all over the world and had been to the White House with four different presidents. Nearly 80 years after the Research Center opened, Upper Cervical Care is still considered by some to be a new approach to health. It is uniquely different from general chiropractic and completely separate and distinct from medicine and physical therapy. Science continues to expand our understanding into the wonderful healing art of Upper Cervical Care and within the past two years, new imaging has revealed that not only does a misalignment of the top two bones in the spine adversely affect the brain stem, but it also reduces the flow of blood and cerebral spinal fluid to the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. This innovative technology sheds a whole new light on the unlimited potential of upper cervical care.

Today, Upper Cervical Health Centers Inc. is the largest Upper Cervical Healthcare provider in the world. UCHC has offices in the United States and Europe and is a leader in Upper Cervical Research. UCHC is currently working with some of the leading Multiple Sclerosis (MS) researchers in Europe and will soon begin research into other health related areas such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, heart conditions and much more. The principles of this distinct healing art are still the same today as they were over 100 years ago. The body is a self-healing organism. The nervous system controls and coordinates every organ and tissue within the body. The relationship between the spine and the nerve system is a prime predictor for the state of health. Find the interference – correct it and the body will always move back toward health. With your help, upper cervical care may soon become the leading healthcare model in the world.

Share your story today!

UCHC Quick Nav

  Request Appointment
  Find a Doctor
  Ask the Doc
  Get Directions
  Video Testimonials
  New Patient Form
Ask the Doc


Will upper cervical technique help with pelvis and leg length discrepancy problems?

Ron Leesburg

Dr.'s Response:

Upper Cervical care focuses on the area that surrounds and protects the brain stem....Read More

Submit Your Question