One of the best aspects of chiropractic care is the variety of approaches that specialists can take. At the start, chiropractors must choose between manual or instrument-assisted adjustments.  Each approach has it’s own unique pros and cons that are worth discussing. Here at Current Chiropractic, our doctors use the activator method to treat patients from Valrico, Brandon and Tampa.

When a chiropractor adjusts a patient,  they can use their hands or a small device. This is what we call an Activator Adjusting Instrument.

Often, chiropractors who use the Activator Method will encounter weary patients that have had less than impressive experiences with so-called “Activators” in the past. That is why you want to make sure that the chiropractor you choose is Adjustor certified (we are!).

What is the Activator Method?

The Activator Method is a diagnostic and treatment system used on many kinds of neck pain, back pain, and headaches. It shares the same goal as manual adjustments: that of a better alignment for a patient’s spine and better overall functioning of their body.

Doctors who utilize this method perform adjustments using a handheld device called an Activator Adjusting Instrument that is said to provide the same amount of force as hands without needing to twist and turn the patient’s body. A patient will lay face down and the doctor will work the tissue around problem areas by tapping the device, which is spring-loaded, first with a small amount of pressure followed by a quick thrust.

During this process. a measure of the patient’s apparent leg length is performed. This is based on the theory that differences in leg lengths can indicate where vertebral misalignments in the spine are present.

Why Do Some Chiropractors Use An Activator?

The Activator device is designed to mimic the effects of a manual spinal adjustment. Some chiropractors use the device because they find it is a more precise way of manipulating the spine. Due to the speed of the instrument, muscles are less likely to tense during treatment.

Evidence suggests that the Activator is also capable of localizing treatment to a small area, such as a single vertebrae. This means that each adjustment can offer the same amount of force as a manual realignment but focused on a smaller, more concise area.

How Does the Activator Method Work?

There are protocols in place that advise chiropractors when to use (or not use) the Activator Method and where. This includes things like a patient evaluation, reflex testing and possibly leg length testing to identify specific spinal joint dysfunction.

Once an evaluation has taken place, a chiropractor will apply the Activator device to the tissues at or around the affected joint. The patient will experience an initial pressure followed by a quick thrust from the device, much like when a doctor tests the reflexes of a knee.

During the Activator Method, the patient will remain still and will not experience any turning or pulling. Afterwards, the chiropractor will evaluate the patient for signs of correction. This kind of treatment can be used in tandem with other alignment techniques by our chiropractors in Valrico.

The Activator Method calls for one thrust per affected tissue area to encourage realignment by the spine. Please note: when administering this treatment, the doctor should not repeatedly apply the Activator to the same area during one session.

Is The Activator Method Safe?

While the Activator Adjusting Instrument has been around since the 1970s, it is still relatively unknown to those who are not familiar with chiropractic services. It was approved by the FDA in 1997 and has been deemed safe to use for spinal realignment and adjustments.

Data shows that the Activator device is about as effective as traditional or diversified alignment techniques. While there are more studies underway about this style of treatment, most experts agree that the only way to experience real results is to visit with a doctor who is trained in this specific method. To be certified in the Activator Method, chiropractors must attend a seminar and receive at least a Proficiency Rating in the Activator Method Chiropractic Technique.

Pros of the Activator Method

The potential benefits of the Activator Method include the ability to localize treatment, speed, and efficiency which is allowed through the use of an instrument. The Activator device offers better accuracy and shorter times per session. Though little evidence has shown an increase in pain reduction through this method over manual manipulations, proponents are hopeful.

Any Drawbacks to this Chiropractic Technique?

This method of chiropractic treatment may require extra equipment and maintenance. This may reflect in the overall cost of the treatment for patients.

Activator Method vs Manipulation

There are benefits to both manual manipulations and the Activator Method. Like other specialists, our chiropractors in Valrico first learned the technique of manually applying spinal manipulation. This is why they have such a firm grasp on the benefits of this style of treatment. For our patients, especially those that are not keen on the turning and tugging that can take place during manual manipulations, really appreciate the adjustor method.

Chiropractors, too, can benefit from using the Activator device to protect their hands from abuse and weathering over time.

Whether or not the Activator Method is the appropriate style of treatment is specific to each case. If you are curious about this option, contact us to schedule an appointment.  The most important thing to remember when trying new styles of treatment is to be honest and communicate with your chiropractor. We encourage anyone in the Brandon/Valrico area to reach out to us for more information – you can call our office at 813-603-4466.