What is a Chiropractic Activator?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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A chiropractic activator is a tool used by chiropractors. It is a small hand-held instrument used to realign bones. It was designed to be an alternative method to the manual techniques chiropractors employ to manipulate the spine.

Traditionally chiropractors use different body positions and movements accompanied by a manual or hands-on pressure to compel vertebral subluxations back into place. A vertebral subluxation is when the spine or a portion of the bones in the spine are out of place. By putting them back where they belong — called an adjustment — the body is able to work more efficiently.

One problem with chiropractics is client fear. Often, to achieve a proper spinal realignment, the client must move into several different positions. Some of the manipulations not only require a position change but a movement as well. Proper positioning, smooth motion in a specific direction and adequate manual pressure is then needed to move the bones back into place. This client-assisted technique can cause increased stress to the client. The client proceeds to tense up, making the manual manipulation much more difficult and in some instances, causes pain in the client.


The chiropractic activator is a little instrument that fits into the palm of the hand. It minimizes the need for clients to change positions, as spinal manipulations can be performed by lying on the belly. The activator resembles a tiny pogo stick except that the “foot rest” is now the place to wrap the fingers around and the “hand rest” is now a palm rest.

The chiropractor places the tip of the chiropractic activator against the area of the back to be manipulated. He then adjusts the angle of the intended pressure. The chiropractor applies pressure to the activator by squeezing his hand together. The instrument then delivers a precisely-measured gentle thrust in a specific direction thus coaxing misaligned bones back into place.

The chiropractic activator has undergone 35 years of research and testing. It has also been found to be a very effective tool to be used on the misaligned joints of the jaw, shoulders, wrists, knees and ankles. Over the years, it has been considered the safest of the chiropractic techniques. It is a tool that can be safely used on clients of any age.


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Post 9

I looked this up after having this treatment yesterday. I was fully clothed in a long sleeved top and light-weight trousers and the practitioner used a small instrument that "popped" in ten or twelve places. There was no pain, not even pressure. Immediately afterwards I walked differently, held myself upright and my head could raise itself out of my shoulders in which it had previously been almost embedded. I am amazed this utter painless treatment performed in 5 minutes has given so much relief.

Post 8

My chiropractor used the activator and manual adjustments for my neck and shoulder pain. It took most of this past year but I am well in that area. It did not hurt one bit but sounded like a stapler gun. I was in such agony before going to the chiropractor that I literally could not lay my head on a pillow. After only one treatment I was able to lay down and sleep all night.

Now I have two new problems after a fall a few months ago. I have a lump on my knee and an orthopedic doctor said it is a patella bursa and will go away with time...did nothing for it. My hip also started hurting

when I stood up too long and walking was painful. My chiropractor said he could help with both issues, which would require about 7 or 8 visits within a couple of weeks. I normally go once a month My chiropractor is using the activator on my knee as well as my hip. Both areas are getting better with this treatment. I absolutely have no pain when he uses the activator and highly recommend it. FYI I am over 70 years old so it is safe for older people like me. I had never been to a chiropractor before my neck and shoulder started hurting. Medical doctor was on the verge of recommending surgery so I decided to try this option first after getting a recommendation from a friend. So glad I did!
Post 7

Is the activator safe to use on the neck?

Post 6

@piper711: I have had the activator used on me for about seven visits. It makes my skin very sensitive and leaves the area sore. I was told it would get better with time, but it still is really painful. It is so painful that I have quit going for the treatments. The results were fairly good, but the pain was too much.

Post 5

Yes, the activator does make a popping sounds while being used. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt. At least I don't think it does.

Post 4

I'm having regular treatments from a chiropractor who uses the activator and I do find I feel much better soon after the treatment. Not sure if it has long term benefits though.

Post 2

I love getting a chiropractic treatment. It feels almost as good as a massage. Sometimes I have seen my chiropractor use a piece of equipment on other patients and I wonder if this is the activator. Does anyone know if the activator makes a pop sound when it is being used? I have wanted to try this, but must admit the sound scares me a little. Silly I know, but if it is the activator it sounds really safe.

Post 1

Please can you advise me if there is somebody in Pretoria, Waverley (South Africa) who can do the activator method technique? Please.

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