03/15/2023 by Dr. Michaela Peterson
The Activator: What is that Clicky Thing?
Are you among the many people who feel nervous about getting adjusted by a chiropractor? It’s not uncommon to feel apprehensive about forceful adjustments. In fact, some of our newer patients have shared fears of stroke, serious injury, or even bones breaking during treatment! For these patients, we need to address that fear to help ease their pain and discomfort.
You can relax more with the Activator.
Using the Activator tends to ease anxiety and fear in our patients, especially those who may have had a bad experience in the past. It’s our favorite technique for building trust and a sense of safety. For our patients who come in with feelings of apprehension along with their pain, the Activator causes less stress as we work to get them back into life.
When you experience fear or stress, your body produces hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can make your muscles more tense and inflamed. This tension and inflammation can make it more difficult to get you out of pain because they put additional strain on your affected areas.
Many of our patients feel apprehensive about the "pops" and "cracks" that come with manual adjustments (the adjustments we perform with our hands). These pops and cracks are sounds often associated with pain or injury, so it's natural to feel anxious when you hear them. In those cases, we tend to offer the Activator as an alternative to manual chiropractic adjustments.
Who is the Activator best for?
The Activator is a more gentle, less frightening approach that helps ease tension for many patients. But easing fear is not the Activator’s only use. In fact, about 15% of all our patients at Golden Chiropractic are adjusted only with the Activator. We find it especially useful in treating:
Small children: little force is required to make changes in their small bodies.
The Activator is a great tool for adjusting kids because it's gentle without those scary popping or cracking sounds. It allows us to make adjustments without excessive force or pressure on their developing bodies. The Activator can also be used in various positions, making it easier to adjust kiddos who have a tough time staying still. Small children often respond well to the most gentle of applied forces, so we lead with the "softess" approach.
Adults with osteoporosis or osteopenia: bone weakening disorders require a gentler approach.
The Activator's precise, low-force adjustments don't involve any twisting or rotational movements. This reduces the risk of putting excessive force on the spine, and so reduces the risk of injury or fracture. We choose to only use the Activator on patients with osteoporosis or osteopenia, as patient safety needs to come first.
What does the Activator feel like?
First, you’ll feel pressure, then a quick thrust from the device—much like when a doctor tests your reflexes at your knee. It tends to be more relaxing because you don’t have to anticipate any forceful movements.
How does the Activator work?
The Activator is a small, handheld adjusting tool that applies a quick, specific, adjustable force that is comfortable and safe. It helps us put a precise, controlled impulse into the joint that’s causing your trouble. We often use the Activator to achieve more motion in a stuck joint, as well as to encourage spinal realignment.
The Activator has been safely used on chiropractic patients since the 1960s. The Activator instrument was developed by Dr. Arlan Fuhr. It is used in many chiropractic offices as a “tool in our toolbox” of adjusting techniques.
Does the Activator really work?
Yes! One case study found that a 75 year old woman's mobility, posture, and perceived quality of life improved by being adjusted with an Activator. In fact, the Activator is the only adjusting instrument shown to be effective by clinical trials. As evidence-based chiropractors, we love treatments backed by clinical trials.
The Activator is both safe and effective.
The Activator is a great choice if you worry about manual adjustments. Whether you need pain relief, injury recovery, or improved wellness, the Activator is a valuable tool for getting you out of pain and back into life. If you’re in pain right now, make an online appointment to get the right treatment plan for your pain.
Curious about other chiropractic treatments?
We use a variety of chiropractic techniques and soft tissue release methods in our Aptos office. If you’re curious about non-invasive treatments for neck, back and other musculoskeletal pain, see our list of services and techniques.