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Chiropractic 101 : What is the Activator Method ?


Chiropractic adjustments, or spinal manipulation, can be done in many different ways. Many chiropractors use their hands to gently twist the back, while others may apply pressure on a drop down table. Many chiropractors also use the activator method. This is where a small device is used by the chiropractor to make the adjustments, which can be a gentle way to soothe problem areas.

During an activator treatment, the patient will lie face down on an adjustment table. Each area of the spine will then be worked on individually with the activator instrument. The tissue around the problem areas will be tapped with the device, first with a small amount of pressure followed by a quick thrust, which sort of feels like having your reflexes tested. There is no twisting or turning with this method, which many patients seem to enjoy.

The activator device is spring-loaded, and intended to mimic the affects of hand spinal adjustment. Some chiropractors find using the device to be advantageous as it can be a quick and efficient way to manipulate the spine. Because of the instrument’s speed, the muscles that are treated are less likely to tense up. This means a patient could be more receptive to treatment. In addition, the device is able to localize treatment to a small area. Often times, other adjustment methods address a section of the back, rather than single vertebrae. The activator does the opposite.

If you think that the activator method may work for you, ask your chiropractor if they are trained to use the device. While not all chiropractors use this method, many are willing to if deemed appropriate. Most initial treatment plans for activator adjustments include a series of visits followed by routine evaluation. If problems persist after four to six weeks, it may be time to revisit the problem area. It could be that the injury needs to be looked at by a spine specialist. Make sure to discuss any and all issues you may have with your chiropractor in order to get the best results.

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