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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Activator Method?

The Activator What is the Activator?

The Activator is a stainless steel device with a spring and hammer that delivers a controlled thrust or adjustment to the spine or other joints in the body. There is no electricity to it. There is a dial on it that will change how much the mallet part displaces, thereby giving the doctor a means to increase or decrease the amount of force that it delivers.

The Activator was developed thirty years ago by a chiropractor in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. The Activator is a registered instrument with the FDA. It is currently being researched in many places around the world, including Arizona State University, Texas Back Institute, and European hospitals.

How Does the Activator Work?

Does the Activator adjust or move a bone? That was an early question that was researched, and the answer was a definite yes. The Activator gives a percussion force to the spine, causing the bone to displace or move. However, it may not seem that it does much, but that is because of the physics of the Activator. So, a short physics lesson:

Physics says that the amount of force that anything generates depends on its mass (for our purposes, its weight) and how fast it is going. For example, a ten ton truck traveling at ten miles per hour when hitting into a tree will probably break it off. That is similar to me adjusting with my hands. I use my weight or mass behind the adjustment, but I am only so fast. However, you can get the same effect on the tree by having a Yugo or VW Beetle hitting it at 55 to 60 mph. All we did was have a lighter weight object hit at a higher speed. The Activator is like that vehicle – the speed is so high, you don’t need the weight behind it.

So who care about that? What is the benefit to that? Well, for one thing, it goes so fast, a person cannot tighten up fast enough in response to it. Sometimes with manual adjusting, the muscles will tighten up so that the joint cannot be moved with the hands. With the Activator, that is impossible.

The Activator also has added benefits. Not only does it move the bone, research has shown that it stimulates the muscles that are in spasm nearby, perpetuating the subluxation or misalignment, and also stimulates the nerve endings, helping quiet them down when they are irritated. It works on the totality of the subluxation complex, which is the root of most of my patient’s pain symptoms: the abnormal joint movement causing muscle spasm and nerve irritation.

What are you doing looking at my feet?

Good question, and it’s too bad that you are face down and cannot see what I am looking at. The Activator uses a system to check precisely where the patient needs the adjustment by a leg check. As I wrote earlier, the root of patients’ problems is usually abnormal joint movement causing nerve irritation. Therefore, the goal is to find out where the joint is not moving correctly, causing the nerves to be irritated. The leg check and isolation tests are used in that process.

Have you ever touched something hot? What happens when you do that? If everything is working properly, you jerk your hand away from it and jump back from it. That is called the withdrawal reflex. It is a normal body response to a painful stimulus. The movements you make with your hands and head or other body parts, according to the joints that are moved or the muscles that are used in making that movement, put a small stress on a specific body joint or bone. If everything is moving properly, then there is no abnormal response by the body, and the legs remain even. If, however, the vertebra is not moving correctly and is subluxated, the body responds with a sub-conscious withdrawal reflex, and one of the legs shortens. For some people, it is the right leg; for others it is the left. If nothing happens, the vertebra is left alone. The leg checks tell where to adjust and what to leave alone. This allows me to be precise in the location that I adjust and in the direction I adjust, as well as the force with which I adjust.

So why do you use the Activator when you could just use your hands?

Another good question. Several reasons: - I like knowing with certainty where the adjustment should go, and in what direction. The checks are very precise, and the method of checking where to adjust has been shown by research to be one of the most reliable and reproducible methods.
- I like the way the Activator addresses all the components of the subluxation. The Activator especially is good on addressing the muscular and nerve component. - I like the safety and comfort of the Activator. The Activator is extremely safe to use and for the vast majority of patients it is very comfortable, although some patients may get sore after the first adjustment. Some patients want nothing but the Activator used because they do not like manual adjustments (adjustments with the hands). The Activator is equally effective.
- I like the research behind the Activator. The Activator is becoming one of the most researched techniques in chiropractic.
If you would like more information, Activator Methods has a website: www.activator.com

One this you will find a database of all the doctors who have been tested in the use of this technique and are certified in it (another reason I like the technique – many doctors use the tool, but not the technique, and they definitely do not get the results that the doctors who use the whole technique receive). In addition, there are abstracts of all the papers published concerning the Activator.

What conditions do chiropractors treat?

Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions. DCs are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches...particularly with their highly skilled manipulations or chiropractic adjustments. They also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, involving the muscles, ligaments and joints. These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system, which can cause referred pain and dysfunction distant to the region of injury. The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues, as well, since our body structure affects our overall function. DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current literature shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours. Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve pressure and tension. Neck manipulation is a remarkably safe procedure. While some reports have associated upper high-velocity neck manipulation with a certain kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection, recent evidence suggests that this type of arterial injury often takes place spontaneously, or following everyday activities such as turning the head while driving, swimming, or having a shampoo in a hair salon. Patients with this condition may experience neck pain and headache that leads them to seek professional care—often at the office of a doctor of chiropractic or family physician—but that care is not the cause of the injury. The best evidence indicates that the incidence of artery injuries associated with high-velocity upper neck manipulation is extremely rare – about 1 case in 5.85 million manipulations. If you are visiting your doctor of chiropractic with upper-neck pain or headache, be very specific about your symptoms. This will help your doctor of chiropractic offer the safest and most effective treatment, even if it involves referral to another health care provider. It is important for patients to understand the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain -- prescription and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) -- as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation. According to a study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.