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Alternative Chiropractic Care: The Activator Tool

Susan is the last of 8 children, has raised 2 children, and has spent 26 years teaching high school kids. She grew up with a strong mother.

Chiropractic method using the activator

Chiropractic method using the activator

An Alternative to the Chiropractor

When I was 35, I was told I had a degenerative jawbone and would need surgery to prevent it from collapsing. I was also told I would have to wear braces until my teeth matched the new jaw bone. My orthodontist informed me that our bodies' posture is directly related to our teeth because we lead with our teeth. Since my lower jaw bone was recessive, I had a pretty noticeable overbite; therefore, my shoulders slumped forward. He said he was sending me to a chiropractor.

My reaction was, “Whoa, hold on there. I do not trust chiropractors. I will not go.” He bluntly said he would not treat me if I did not follow his directions to receive chiropractic treatments. He was a specialist in orthodontics, dealing with only the most serious cases, and I had no other choice but to keep him as my orthodontist and to follow his directions for chiropractic treatments with the clinician he had chosen. I had fears of being popped and snapped and eventual back surgery. I know that is unfair to the good chiropractors out there, but I had heard horrible stories.

The activator tool

The activator tool

My First Experience

I finally go to my first chiropractic appointment. The chiropractor is a lovely lady who is so personable. I could not help but like her, though I was still skeptical. I had to watch a video about a little chiropractic tool called an activator. Okay, so this little tool that looks like a syringe is supposed to gently put my vertebrae back into place, and there would be no manual manipulation of my bones. Sounds good, but really?

She asked me some questions about headaches, eye strain, dizziness, tension, and a variety of other things dealing with my well-being. She sounded like a medical doctor. I told her I had experienced all these symptoms. She attributed much of it to my degenerative jaw but also stated that many of my problems were from being a teacher who constantly graded papers and worked at a computer. I told her I often had pain in my neck, shoulders, and lower back and was currently experiencing pain in all those areas.

She had me lie face down on a table then, while holding my ankles, she directed me to place my hands in different places alongside or across my body and back. Again, I am thinking, Really? I asked her how she could tell anything by moving my ankles around, up and down, and to the side. She said she could tell where my alignment was out by the position of my feet, whether one was higher or lower than the other. Then she told me she was going to use the chiropractic activator to adjust my vertebrae. I was still wary and prayed first that it wouldn’t hurt and then that I would not end up on some surgeon’s table.

To my great surprise and relief, she used the activator to adjust my C5 vertebrae in my neck and then on several of my lower back vertebrae. My headache was instantly gone, and the activator felt like a quick flick to each vertebra. The only thing I heard was the click of the activator. She asked me to bend my knees so my ankles would be at a 90-degree angle with my body and to hold them together as hard as I could so she could try to pull them apart. I did as she asked, thinking she would not be able to pull them apart. She easily did pull them apart, and I felt a familiar pain in my low back. She told me to move to another table and to lie face down again. She adjusted the table to barely lift my lower body up at the hips. As she was doing this, she informed me my tailbone was out, probably from sitting on hard surfaces like wooden chairs and bleachers. She then instructed me to put my knees together with my ankles up again but to let my feet fall naturally to the sides. A quick push on my hips caused the table to drop, making my body flat. Still on my stomach and face down, she asked me to put my ankles together again and to hold tight. She could not pull them apart. After 10 minutes of lying with localized massagers on my neck and low back, I felt like a million bucks. No headache or back pain or feeling dizzy; the pain was gone. I could not believe it. Check with your insurance; they might pay for it. I will say that it is well worth the money to feel better if you do have to pay for the visits.

Our spine connects every nerve in our body

Our spine connects every nerve in our body

Regular Chiropractic Services

After choosing to go to an alternative chiropractor and feeling wonderful each time I left and having to go less and less, I decided to try a regular chiropractor—mainly out of curiosity. My husband is a tall, muscular man who has exercised and physically worked hard all his life. He has always used a regular chiropractor, and he feels just as good as I do after adjustments with my alternative chiropractor. My alternative chiropractor encouraged me to try the regular chiropractor, too. She said she had both a regular and an alternative chiropractor. So, I decided to try. I chose a chiropractic clinic that had a great reputation.

My experience with the regular chiropractor did not work out as well for me as my husband’s and my alternative chiropractor’s experiences had for them. First, I was tense and found it hard to relax for the physical manipulations. The chiropractor was a nice man who tried to soothe me, but he was as big as my husband. First, he had me lie on my side and put my leg over in front. He held my hip and shoulder and pushed in opposite directions. I could actually hear the loud popping of my vertebrae as they were adjusted back into place. My eyes must have nearly popped out of my head, too, at the sound. He asked, “Are you all right?” I assured him I was fine, just surprised. Then he leaned my head to the side and was about to adjust my neck. I instantly tensed up with visions of Rambo snapping an enemy’s neck. Once again, the chiropractor had to soothe me into a relaxed state. Once again, I heard the loud pop in my neck.

The adjustment was over, and I left. I felt sore and questioned my decision to try a regular chiropractor. My muscles felt swelled around the vertebrae, and I did not feel well for about a day. Once my muscles calmed down, I could tell the adjustment had worked. I continued going to him for three more months, but the results were the same each time I left.

Regular vs Alternative Chiropractic Care

With the alternative chiropractic care, I did not hear popping of vertebrae, nor did I feel tense before having the chiropractic activator applied to my vertebrae. I instantly felt better. While the regular chiropractic care worked, I had to wait for the swelling to go down in the muscles around my vertebrae. I did not feel good for at least a day and had to take ibuprofen. My husband did not understand why the regular chiropractic care did not work as well with me as it did with him. I think it is because he has much more muscle mass around his vertebrae to cushion the adjustment, and he probably did not tense up as I did before the regular chiropractic treatment.

The regular chiropractor wanted me to sign up for scheduled treatments on a weekly and then biweekly basis. He was a good chiropractor, but I did not feel I needed to be in the office for months on end before feeling better. Plus, the cost of the treatments would escalate while I waited to be what he thought was 100%. He did not have much faith in the activator method though he knew how to use it and the concepts behind it. I was not impressed with his arrogant attitude toward alternative chiropractic treatment.

What to Do Between Visits

When I am grading papers or looking at a computer, I should take a break to lie down with a rolled-up towel or a long, tube-like pillow to put under my neck and a regular pillow under my knees. This stretches my neck muscles and vertebrae and helps keep my back aligned.

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While sitting up straight, such as when watching TV or driving, place what she calls a neck buddy around my neck. It is a tube sock filled with 4-6 cups of rice and sewn at each end. It helps put my neck vertebrae back into place or to keep them in place. It also builds the muscle up around my neck. She said to never walk around with it on or to look down. The neck buddy can also be placed in the freezer or microwave for the heat/ ice effect.

Sit on a cushion or pillow rather than directly on a hard surface. She recommended a tailbone cushion that is shaped like a thin wedge with a hole in the thicket, back part of the cushion for the tailbone to rest and to be protected. I bought a couple at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for fifteen dollars each. I use one at home, and one stays in the car.

Benefits of Alternative Chiropractic Services

My quality of life is much better since going to an alternative chiropractor who uses the activator. I no longer suffer from headaches or back aches. My alternative chiropractor tells me when she believes it is a chiropractic issue or a medical issue. If it is a medical issue, as it was when I was having muscle spasms in my back, she told me to go see my doctor because she could not help me with an adjustment. I only go on an as-needed basis and do not feel pressured to go through a whole regiment that lasts for months. I know that when I assign papers to my classes, I will need an appointment. I know that when I sit on hard surfaces, I will need an appointment.

How to Find One

To find an alternative chiropractor in your area, type into your address bar or search engine. Once you get to the site, choose a city or enter your zip code. Alternative chiropractors with addresses, phone numbers, and sometimes a website will appear for your area.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Susan Holland


Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on February 01, 2014:

Not a problem. :-)

jotaylor on February 01, 2014:

mistyhorizon - I am currently making arrangement for a McTimoney practitioner to visit Guernsey. If you are at all interested please do not hesitate to contact me

apologies SHolland for intruding your site

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 29, 2013:

Thank you, so do I :)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on October 28, 2013:

I hope you get some relief soon! :-)

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 28, 2013:

Thanks for sending me the link. I suspect that I would have a problem finding an alternative chiropractor here in Guernsey as we are a small island only 25 miles square. Of course this would be easier if I was in the UK. I will see how I get on with whatever the doctor recommends and hope he can help (or that I can cope with the conventional chiropractor). If that fails I will have to look at if there are any alternative ones on the island, but this comes with risks as they wouldn't necessarily be the best at the skill, not least because they would have little or no competition here.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on May 16, 2013:

Thank you, Walter! I think each person needs to find a chiropractor who fits - whether it is a regular or alternative chiropractor. I did not write the hub "Chiropractic Therapy - Network Chiropractors." I can't take credit for that. :-)

Thanks so much for dropping by and voting! :-)

Poon Poi Ming from Malaysia on May 16, 2013:

A well-written up... I am voting it up.

Our body posture directly related to our teeth? That's something new to me! But I trust your experience because I have been to several chiropractors before. My chiropractors are useless, so I can understand what you meant when you talked about your experience, after switching to a normal chiropractor. None of my chiraporactors used the chiropractic activator. In fact, this is the first time I am seeing it.

Read your hub, "Chiropractic Therapy - Network Chiropractors". I have a chart similar to yours in my health website, so I can relate to what you are saying.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on May 11, 2013:

Hi Moronkee! Yes, I believe an alternative chiropractor could help you with migraines. Mine has been a miracle worker. If I start getting those headaches that are worse when there is light and movement, I am in her office immediately, and I get immediate relief.

Good luck! I hope you are able to find a chiro you feel comfortable with and get relief. :-)

Thanks for dropping by!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on May 11, 2013:

Hi Mercury! I am very pleased with my alternative chiropractor. My husband loves his regular chiropractor. I believe it is just what each individual is comfortable with physically.

No, I haven't watched those videos. I will have to check them out.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Moronke Oluwatoyin on May 10, 2013:

A very useful hub. Thank GOD you no longer suffer headaches and pays.

Does it mean that visiting a Chriopractor will help solve the problem of migraine?

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Alex Munkachy from Honolulu, Hawaii on May 09, 2013:

I always wondered about the validity of alternative chiropractors and chiropractors in general... have you ever seen the KST Van Every Chiropractic videos on youtube?

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on May 05, 2013:

Thanks, SmallBiz! :-)

smallbizloandepot from Atlanta, GA on May 04, 2013:

wow, great article, well thought out looks like you put some time into this.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on October 30, 2012:

Thanks, and you are welcome. :-)

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on October 30, 2012:

Interesting info! Thanks for sharing this.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on October 23, 2012:

I hope you are able to take care of your back problems soon. You might think about using some of the small menthol pads along your spine to get you through the day.

Take care!

Thanks for dropping by, voting, and sharing! :)

KDuBarry03 on October 22, 2012:

How interesting! I've been having a lot of back pains lately and I simply can't afford a chiropractor at this moment (both time and money wise) Thank you for the suggestions; voted up and shared :)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on October 13, 2012:

Hi Moonlake! I am with you on not allowing a chiropractor manipulate my neck by "cracking" it into place. I know the regular chiropractor does a good job for many people; it is just not the way for me. I never feel swollen or sore after being aligned with the activator.

I wouldn't stay in an office to listen to music either. GOOD GRIEF!! I would be asking for my money back. I am trained to tell someone to do that... LOL

I hope you do some more research on the activator. It is a miracle worker in the hands of a chiropractor who knows what he/she is doing.

Thanks for dropping by and voting! :-)

moonlake from America on October 13, 2012:

I go to a chiropractor and have for many years but I won't let them pop my neck.

When my doctor put me in therapy for my shoulder and I wasn't getting anywhere. (Laying in a dark room on a pad by myself with soft music playing is not therapy to me.) I can do that at home and it won't cost me a thing and it also won't do my pain any good. The chiropractor was the one that took my pain away.

Never heard of the activator very interesting. Voted uP!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on October 13, 2012:


I am so sorry. I am just seeing your comment. I am so glad you are using the activator. It really is the safest way to go for chiropractic care. Again, I apologize for missing your comment.

Thanks so much for dropping by! :-)

Christy Parks from St. Peters, Missouri on August 23, 2012:

Great article! I love the activator too! Very well written!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on June 28, 2012:

Hi Vicki! I love the activator method! Since we are at the computer all the time, it is so easy for us to fall into bad posture, and once we do, our vertebrae is out of place, and we need to have it adjusted. Don't let it go unless you like that "hump-on-the-back" look... YIKES!

Thanks so much for dropping by, and I hope it is helpful. :-) Try to find someone in your area. If you have to come up my way, we'll have to do lunch!! :-)

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on June 28, 2012:

Interesting. I've never heard of an "activator." I have been to a regular chiropractor before, though, and it was very helpful. Haven't been in a long time, but I have been noticing that more time at the computer has made my back hurt more. Thanks for sharing this. Could come in handy!

writeronline on April 23, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your experiences with both traditional and activator chiropractic treatments. Lately, I seem to have a new misalignment emerging every few days! From my jaw to my thighs, hips and neck, so far...,so I'm particularly interested in learning more about what might be going wrong. I also found the comments very interesting, reassuring in a way, because it seems that this kind of degeneration is not that uncommon. Good to know.

restrelax from Los angeles CA on April 16, 2012:

physically worked hard all his life and always used a regular chiropractor, and he feels just as good as I do after adjustments with my alternative chiropractor

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on April 10, 2012:

Hi Angie! Thanks for sharing your information. I had never heard of McTimoney method. I am glad you found a procedure that works for you. It is up to the individual. My husband loves the physical manipulation, but I don't handle it as well. I do love the activator method, though, and feel it is very gentle and effective.

I hope that everyone can find what suits them and their needs. :-)

Thanks for reading! :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on April 10, 2012:

Hi Emily - I have had all those symptoms and issues. I love the activator treatments. I just could not handle the physical manipulations. Some people love their regular chiropractor, too, though. I hope you find relief soon. Take Care!

Thanks for reading! :-)

Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on April 10, 2012:

I find the activator, and most chiropractic, far too rough for my body ... and peace of mind!

Except for the McTimoney method which uses the hands only and is never violent. I'm not too fragile but a good chiropractor is one who knows how to adjust their moves to suit the body they are working on.

I was a practitioner of NST (neuro-structural integration technique) a sort of advanced Bowen Technique, which uses subtle movements on the muscles in order to persuade them to relax, which it did very efficiently. Once the muscles had relaxed and stopped pulling on the skeleton the bones then moved back gently into their correct position. I have never found anything that was more effective.

emilybee on April 09, 2012:

I found this hub very, very interesting. I'm going to go back and re-read it because I kind of skimmed it ;) I've had migraines, achy back and dizziness for a long time and I would like for it to go away. I have thought about chiropractic but been scared to, but I think I need to research it more now. Thanks for sharing your story!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on April 09, 2012:

Hi Sharyn! I hope you find relief soon. I know how it feels to have that awful back and neck pain. If it is my back, it is usually my tailbone. It is amazing how it is all connected. Good Luck! Thanks for voting and sharing! :-)

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on April 09, 2012:

Hi Susan ~ Thank you so much for this information. I appreciated learning about the jaw bone and its relationship to our posture. I too had an overbite and braces. I am currently having back pain and it is so aggravating. I really need to do something about it instead of just hoping that it goes away. I will look in to your suggestions. Voting and sharing too! Thank you so much!


Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on April 02, 2012:

Sam, it is wonderful. I think my chiropractor is a miracle worker!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on March 03, 2012:

Hey Ray! I am so glad you found a good chiropractor to help you. My husband loves his traditional chiropractor, too. I can only imagine the type of pain two dislocated disc would cause. You are right about how we each have different reactions and recovery time. I think that is why I love my chiropractor so much because I feel nothing but relief when I leave with no muscle swelling. Ya know I am just a delicate little thing. LOL

Thanks for dropping by and the vote up! :-)

Raymond D Choiniere from USA on March 03, 2012:

Hey Sholland, it's nice to see that there's an alternative to ordinary chiropractors. I have been using a chiropractor for my lower back for a good number of years. Actually, I went to several different ones until I found one who actually knew what he was doing. There are a good number of people who are chiropractors, but really are all thumbs when dealing with patients.

A number of years ago, I was a store manager and was obligated to do what is called a reset. Which means, that we(my employees and myself) were to reset the store's layout according to the new layout that came from home office. This required a lot, and I mean a lot of manual(physical) movement of 400 pound gondolas(shelving for products). It would have taken longer if we had to remove everything from the gondolas and then put everything back on them, instead of moving them as is. However, I moved one and dislocated two discs in my lower back and have had problems ever since. The chiropractor I see now is the best I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and he is a great guy too. :) I guess it's not a surprise that you would feel differently in your experience with both. Listening to your body pop(crack) is odd and how you recover varies from person to person. It has to do more with tension in your body than anything else. Great hub. Voted up! :)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on March 03, 2012:

Kebennett, I am so glad you found a chiropractor who uses the activator. They are miracle tools!! I have wondered how many people have had unnecessary surgery? I know there are serious back and spine injuries, but most medical doctors would rather die before sending a patient to a chiropractor. I am so glad I was made to go. It has made a huge difference in my life.

I am so glad you shared your story!

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on March 03, 2012:

I started using chiropractic services a month ago due to a car accident. I have both neck and spine damage. The activator is a wonderful tool. I love my chiropractor! I used to be afraid of chiropractors because they used the old manipulation techniques where they twist your body. Now the fear is gone and I am doing so much better. I had physical therapy for weeks with no pain relief and now 90% of the pain is gone 100% of the time! I love it. AND without surgery!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 31, 2012:

Oh, Girlfriend, you should go. You will feel so much better. Get that massage too!! You deserve it. :-)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on January 31, 2012:

Hey Susan - great hub! I swear by the chiropracter. I miss going so you have reminded me! Thanks - I could use an adjustment. I have a small back...and after 3 children..ahhh! My chiro prescribed a weekly massage for me:) lol It was heaven!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 20, 2012:

Alocsin, It truly is wonderful and there have been times I thought something else was wrong, but the alt chiro helped me. The spinal column is amazing how it connects every nerve in our bodies.

Thanks for dropping by and voting! :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 20, 2012:

Hi Sue! I would have never gone if I hadn't been made to. I am so glad I did now because life is so much better when I feel good. :-)

Thanks for dropping by and voting! :-)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 20, 2012:

I have never heard of this treatment. Something new to try if I visit a chiropractor. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Sueswan on January 20, 2012:

I have never been to a chriopractor. From the information you have provided, I would choose the Alternative Chiropractic Treatments.

I like the way that you presented the information and the video was the perfect accompaniment.

Voted up and awesome.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 15, 2012:

Poshcoffee, you get a gold star for the year!! LOL I am glad you found my information enlightening. Truly, alternative chiropractic treatments have improved my quality of life.

Thanks for the compliment, dropping by and reading, and the votes!! :-)

Steve Mitchell from Cambridgeshire on January 15, 2012:

What do you mean....when you were 35? You don't look a day over 30! I am so glad you got everything sorted. Your story was enlightening and I was glued to it from start to finish.

vote up / awesome

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 03, 2012:

I have suffered from migraines, too. Grading papers usually throws my neck out and causes them. My head feels like it is going to explode, I feel nausea, and my eyes hurt. My chiropractor uses the activator on my C5 vertebrae in my neck. I highly suggest you research it. :-)

Thanks for dropping by and reading!

Tammy from North Carolina on January 03, 2012:

Someone once told me I should look into getting chiropractic services for migranes. Seems like there is so much more to it than alignments. I may have to check it out. Great job! Thanks for the information!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 30, 2011:

Looking at the charts of the spine amaze me how every nerve in our body is connected there. That is why the activator is so successful (in my opinion). It is all amazing to me. :-)

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on December 30, 2011:

I think the before and after pictures would be really interesting to see. I don't know why I am always amazed by stories like yours, afterall the human body is a system and one part affects another and so on and so on. It's actually funny in a way that the medical system is set up to treat us by body parts - strange when you think about it. I'm glad you found such success.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 30, 2011:

Thank you, KTrapp! I should post my before and after pictures (if I can find them). My posture is so much better. Also, I no longer have to "grit my teeth and bear it" when I have a constant headache or lower back pain that ibuprofen does not help. My alternative chiropractor has really made a difference in my life. I also have scoliosis, and the treatments help me with the problems it causes. I haven't seen the cane instrument before. I do sleep with a curved pillow to relieve pressure in my neck.

Thanks for dropping by and reading! :-)

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on December 30, 2011:

This was incredibly interesting from start to finish. I too fear chiropractors, but the alternative treatment you've received with the activator sounds like it has made a huge difference for you. My husband has a cane-looking instrument that helps him put pressure on pressure points to relax muscles. It seems to help him a little with his back issues.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 17, 2011:

Hi A.A.! It is money well spent. I feel so much better and am so glad I was made to go.

Thanks for dropping by!

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on December 17, 2011:

I visit a wellness chiropractor. I pay either $20 per visit, or $80 a month. I can visit anytime Monday through thursday, and saturdays. It's money well spent. Thank you for sharing.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 17, 2011:

Hi Kims! Thanks for the kind words. I am glad the information was useful for you. I love my chiropractor and feel so go.od after one of her treatments.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

kims3003 on December 17, 2011:

Nice work - you put a lot of time into this well done hub and it certainly shows. Very helpful information that I was looking for and glad I came across this.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 17, 2011:

I think chiropractors are wonderful. It just depends on which type your body can handle. I think the activator is easier for me while my husband likes the traditional chiropractic adjustments. Plus, I want people to know there does not need to be any fear of going to a reputable chiropractor. :-)

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

The Lion Queen on December 17, 2011:

How interesting!! My chiropractor is a friend, and I think he's a genuis, but I've never even heard of alternative chiropracty. I thought chiropracty was already alternative enough. ;-). Thanks for this!

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