The Activator Method chiropractic technique involves multiple steps. A chiropractor or other health care professional may use all of the steps or may focus on only using the Activator instrument to adjust the spine.

A typical treatment will be done while the patient lies face down on the adjustment table. The treatment typically begins with the lower back and progresses toward the head, targeting each vertebral segment individually.

The chiropractor will evaluate the patient for signs and symptoms to identify the joints of the spine or the extremities that may be the source of complaints and amenable to treatment with the Activator instrument.

Activator Adjustment

During a typical adjustment with the Activator instrument, the chiropractor applies the device to the tissues at or near the affected joint. An initial pressure is followed by a quick thrust from the device, which feels much like having one's reflex tested by tapping the knee.

The patient remains still, with no twisting or turning as there often is for a traditional chiropractic adjustment high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust).

After an adjustment, the chiropractor will often examine the patient to check for improvement of signs and symptoms associated with the complaint.


Treatment Plan

A practitioner will recommend a series of treatments, such as 1 to 2 times per week, for an initial period of 4 to 6 weeks, though the final decision is dependent on each individual’s case. Once the patient's symptoms are improved and clinical signs resolved, the Activator treatment is completed.


If the patient feels no pain relief after approximately 3 to 4 treatments, the chiropractor will stop the treatment and re-evaluate the patient's symptoms and condition. For example, the patient may need a different type of manipulation and/or referral to a different type of spine specialist.

See Specialists Who Treat Back Pain

Dr. Emma Minx is a chiropractor and founder of Minx Wellness. Additionally, she is the clinic director for Advanced Care Specialists. Dr. Minx is a certified chiropractic sports physician and also one of the team chiropractors for the Chicago Bears.