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Activator Methods

The following is excerpted from The Chiropractic Report (May 2014 Vol. 28 No. 3) written by Dr. David Cassidy

Use of an Activator adjusting instrument (Activator) is the second most common chiropractic technique in the USA and internationally after manual Diversified technique.

A recent systematic review of clinical trials of Activator Methods (AM), now more researched than any other manipulative technique, concludes it is as safe and effective as manual manipulation or trigger point therapy for patients with acute and chronic spinal pain, and other biomechanical restrictions such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction and trigger points in the trapezius muscles.

For patients, the high-velocity, light-force properties of instrument adjusting were found to be a valuable alternative to manual manipulation, especially for specific categories of patient. These include, for example, children, patients with osteoporosis, and those fearful of manual manipulation and its perceived forcefulness.

It was also the growing clinical and research evidence of effectiveness for all patients that led to the quite remarkable growth of use of AM and the Activator from the1990s. International surveys by the US National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) have reported the following use of the Activator by chiropractors with at least some of their patients:

In 1993 – 40% of Canadian chiropractors.
In 1994 – 72.7% of Australian and 54.3% of New Zealand chiropractors.
In 2005 – 51.2% of American chiropractors.
A survey by Read, Wilson et al. from the UK published in 2006 reported that 82% of responding British chiropractors used an Activator, although only 2% used it as their primary treatment method.

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