Activator Technique

The Activator Technique is a diagnostic and treatment system used by some chiropractors to treat many types of back pain, neck pain and headaches. The method uses a hand-held instrument called the Activator Adjustment Instrument to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine. The goal is to restore motion and function to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint. The device is categorized as a mechanical force manual assisted instrument, generally regarded as a softer chiropractic treatment technique.

The Activator Technique is basically an alternative to manual manipulation of the spine or extremity joints. The Activator Adjusting Instrument is reported to be the most common therapeutic intervention used by chiropractors. The small handheld spring-loaded instrument delivers a small impulse to the spine, giving off no more than 0.3 J of kinetic energy in a 3-millisecond pulse, producing enough force to move the vertebrae but not enough to cause injury.

How Does It Work?

  • the patient lies in a prone position
  • the chiropractor compares the functional leg lengths (often one leg will seem to be slightly longer than the other)
  • the chiropractor carries out a series of muscle tests, such as having the patient move their arms in certain positions
  • if the leg lengths change, that is a sign that the problem is located at that vertebra
  • treatment is made moving progressively along the spine in the direction from the feet towards the head

Treatment Plan

Your practitioner will recommend a series of treatments, such as 1-2 times per week for an initial period of 4-6 weeks, although the final decision is dependent on each individual case. Once the patient’s symptoms are improved, the treatment is completed. If there is no pain relief after 3-4 treatments, the chiropractor will stop the treatment and re-evaluate the patient’s symptoms and condition. The patient may need a different type of manipulation or a referral to a different type of spine specialist if there is no sign of improvement.

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