Activator technique

Activator technique

The Activator technique was created by Arlan Fuhr as an alternative to manual manipulation of the spine or extremity joints. It is categorized as a mechanical force manual assisted (MFMA) instrument which is generally regarded as a softer chiropractic treatment technique.

Physical characteristics of the activator device

The activator is a small handheld spring-loaded instrument which delivers a small impulse to the spine. It was found to give off no more than 0.3 J of kinetic energy in a 3-millisecond pulse. The aim is to produce enough force to move the vertebrae but not enough to cause injury.cite journal |last=Fuhr |first=Arlan W. |authorlink= |coauthors= J. Michael Menke |year=2005 |month=February |title=Status of Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique, Theory, and Practice |journal=Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics |volume=28 |issue=2 |pages=e1–e20 |id= |url= |accessdate=2008-08-18 |quote= ]

Activator method chiropractic technique

The activator method chiropractic technique (AMCT) involves having the patient lie in a prone position and comparing the functional leg lengths. Often one leg will seem to be slightly shorter than the other. The chiropractor then carries out a series of tests such as pressing on a vertebra. If the shorter leg seems to become even shorter, that is taken as a sign that the problem is located at that vertebra. The chiropractor treats problems found in this way moving progressively along the spine in the direction from the feet towards the head."Functional leg length" is not a recognized anthropometric technique. Simply moving the two legs held together and leaning them imperceptibly to one side or the other produces different results.

Utilization rates

Surveys of chiropractors have found over half using the "activator" device. The majority of U.S. chiropractic schools and some schools in other countries teach the AMCT method, and an estimated 45,000 chiropractors worldwide use AMCT or some part of the technique.


There have been a number of studies of AMCT, including case reports, clinical studies and randomized controlled trials, but there are still unanswered questions. A few studies suggest that the activator may be as effective as manual adjustment in treatment of back pain. The efficacy of manual adjustments is also questionable and is under debate.


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