The benefits of the chiropractic activator method can be enjoyed by patients of all ages. Many patients find the activator method to be quick, gentle, and effective. According to Activator Method International, approximately 150,000 licensed chiropractors are trained in the activator method worldwide making it the most widely used low-force chiropractic technique in the world.
What is the Activator Method?
The Activator method is a type of manual manipulation using the Activator adjusting instrument to aid in restoring spinal balance providing a controlled low-force quick thrust. This instrument is a great alternative to the traditional treatment style of high velocity, low amplitude (HVLA) thrust such as the Diversified technique.
Activator Instrument Advantages:
- Controlled force – the force of the activator instrument is localized, and does not put the joint in a position that is unnatural such as twisting or bending.
- Speed – the quick movement of the activator instrument allows for less muscle resistance adding to the effectiveness of the treatment.
In the traditional adjustment, the body’s muscles are more likely to resist, but since the activator tool is swift, these muscles are less likely to resist which allows for a more accurate and precise adjustment. The new models of this instrument are also cordless and powered electronically rather than spring-loaded making it even more easy to use in your office.
In addition to the tool, chiropractic providers who utilize the Activator method may use leg length evaluation as well as a routine physical exam such as motion and static palpation of the spine to locate where to apply the Activator treatment. Since it is a localized treatment, and while it can treat several areas, there are certain conditions that the Activator method is most often utilized for in a chiropractic office.
Conditions treated with the Chiropractor Activator Method:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
- Disc issues
- Inflamed joints
The Activator method can fight inflammation, decrease pain, remove nerve blockages, and restore motion by correcting subluxations in the spine. This brings back sensation and function to the problem area. Although the Activator method is used most widely for back pain, neck pain, and headaches, removing subluxations can also be beneficial for those suffering from other issues.
Additional benefits of the Activator method to those suffering with:
- Digestive issues
- Nerve pain
- Low immunity
- High blood pressure
Overall, the activator method mimics the force of a manual adjustment but focuses on a smaller more concise area with maximum effectiveness.
Activator Chiropractic Technique
There is a very good reason that the Activator method has been used since the late 60’s, and took off as a successful chiropractor technique. It is quick, effective, and not much is needed in the office to have it in your chiropractic toolbox.
The Benefits of using the Activator Method:
- Gentle – this method is easy on the spine and joints making it appropriate and useful for patients who need a softer method such as those with osteoporosis and arthritis, and pregnant women. These conditions weaken the bones and joints, and the Activator method can be utilized without causing further damage or pain.
- Double benefit – even if it is mainly used for neck pain, back pain, and chronic headaches, it provides a multitude of benefits for other ailments of the patient just by correcting one subluxation such as those listed above.
- Precise – it is able to target a specific area restoring motion in the joint. Additionally, the precise nature of the activator instrument is useful in reducing stiffness in the joints as compared to traditional manipulation.
- Multiple age groups – since the method is gentle, it is appropriate for treating those age groups that tend to be more fragile such as children and elderly patients.
- Stable joint longevity – the speed of the activator instrument doesn’t cause the muscles to tense which will ultimately, over time, retrain the ligaments and joints to be stronger and more stable.
The Activator instrument can be described to a patient as feeling like having one’s reflexes tested by tapping the knee. Patient’s love it for this reason as well as its effect. Are there any drawbacks to the Activator method for patients or providers? The only potential drawback would be the extra tool needed at the office possibly affecting the overall cost for the treatment for patients. However, if the majority of your patients are coming in for issues related to the above conditions, it is a worthwhile investment to learn the Activator Method.
Activator Method vs. Traditional Manipulation
Obviously, there are benefits to both the Activator method and traditional manual manipulations, and we are not insinuating to use one over the other, but rather, incorporate a new method that could potentially help your patients. Like many specialists, chiropractors can have many tools in their toolbox that come with experience and education, and for those patients that aren’t so much into the twisting and turning manipulation, really appreciate the Activator method. Furthermore, chiropractors can also benefit from the Activator instrument to keep and protect their hands from breaking down over time.
In a systemic review from 2012, Clinical Effectiveness of the Activator Adjusting Instrument in the Management of Musculoskeletal Disorders, it showed the activator method to have benefits to patients with trigger points and spinal pain. While there needs to be a larger patient base in these types of studies, there are positive outcomes showing for the Activator method, and chiropractic in general.
Activator Method Protocol
The Activator method chiropractor protocol involves multiple steps, and it is possible that a chiropractor using this method may use all of these steps or possibly just focus on using the Activator instrument.
A typical Activator method treatment may involve the following:
- The chiropractic provider evaluates the patient to find the joints in the extremities or spine that could be the root of the complaints, and would be best addressed with the Activator instrument.
- The patient will lie face down on the adjustment table beginning usually with the lower back moving up toward the head aiming at each vertebral segment individually. The patient remains still with no twisting as there is in traditional adjustments.
- The chiropractic provider then applies the Activator instrument to the tissue near or at the affected joint. They offer an initial pressure followed by a quick gentle thrust from the instrument.
- Immediately following the adjustment, the chiropractor will check for improvement of the patient symptoms associated with the root complaint.
After the adjustment, if the patient seems to show improvement, recommend an initial treatment plan. For example, 1 – 2 times a week for an initial time frame of 4 – 6 weeks depending on the individual’s case. However, if the patient shows no pain relief or improvement within 3 – 4 treatments, stop the Activator treatment and re-evaluate for use of a different type of manipulation.
Should I Implement the Activator Method?
According to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, roughly half of American chiropractic providers have used the Activator method in their practices, as is also commonly used in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The great thing about the Activator method, or any chiropractic technique for that matter, is that there is not one universal method for treating patients. As a chiropractic provider, you can implement as many techniques as you feel would be beneficial to the patients who come into your office every day. Having the Activator Method available for use will allow for a wide range of patients who still hesitant to try chiropractic to begin with. All in all, the ultimate goal of the Activator method is shared with traditional manipulation, and that is better alignment and better overall functioning of the human body.