A few weeks ago, we did a blog on TMJ and did a video on ways to adjust the jaw. In the video, we showed an instrument adjusting tool called the Activator. Since then, patients and prospective patients have asked what instrument adjusting is and if it’s better to be adjusted with an instrument adjusting tool. In this week’s blog, we will discuss what instrument adjusting is, analyze if its better to be adjusted with an instrument, and explain what we can do to help. 

What is Instrument Adjusting?

An instrument adjusting tool is a handheld device or suspension device that is used to treat a patient in a chiropractic facility. An instrument adjusting tool is still considered a form of spinal manipulation treatment. A chiropractor who adjusts patients manually or with a table drop piece mechanism is performing a high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustment. Instrument adjusting performs a low-velocity, low amplitude adjustment. 

Is it Better to Get Adjusted with an Instrument Versus Manually?

Patients think that an adjustment using an instrument won’t be as effective as getting adjusted manually because there isn’t as much force. This is a false statement. The velocity of the adjustment may be lower, but the amplitude is the same. The amplitude of a chiropractic adjustment depth influences the thrust, thereby creating movement in a joint space.  

The end result is no different. Studies show that different patients respond to both manual adjusting and instrument adjusting equally. The approach is different, but their focus is the same: remove nerve interference and get patients better. 

If there is no difference in technique, why do some chiropractors adjust with an instrument over manual adjusting? There are over 200 different chiropractic techniques in the profession. Each technique has a different approach, but the philosophy is the same. Some chiropractors choose instrument adjusting over other techniques for two different reasons:

  1. It’s a lighter approach and is effective on patient care just like any other technique.
  2. It’s easier on the doctor’s body. Many chiropractic techniques, along with the force to implement can be hard on the body. A manual adjuster who sees 100 patients a day for 30 years will likely develop achy joints over time because of the amount of force needed from the joints for a successful adjustment to be achieved. 

What Can We Do to Help?

At our office, our primary technique is the Pierce Results System (PRS). Our technique is performed using drop piece mechanisms on the adjusting table that provides a successful high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustment. There is no cracking, no popping, and no twisting or rotating to the spine, joints, or discs.

In addition to the PRS method, we do utilize two different instrument adjusting tools in our facility. We use these instruments either upon patient request, when someone has severe osteoporosis, or someone with a low pain tolerance.

The first instrument is the Impulse IQ Adjusting Instrument. Below is an image of the instrument. Impulse IQ utilizes a special therapy called vibration therapy. The instrument is a mechanical, spring-loaded device that when the trigger is activated, the spring hits against the stylus and reverberates on the spine. The spring repeatedly activates until the bone being adjusted moves into proper alignment. The Impulse IQ was designed to know the disc plane lines of the spine, thus, successfully moving each vertebra into the correct position using the vibration of the stylus against the bone. 

The instrument has three different styluses: lumbar/thoracic, cervical, and trigger point. The trigger point stylus is a single head used to focus on one particular region. We utilize the tool a lot in the thoracic region, and for patients with stomach issues or difficulty breathing. However, we can use it on the entire spine. It’s not our main technique, but it does work well on patients. 
Impulse IQ | Charny Healing Center

The other instrument adjusting tool we utilize in our office is the Activator. Below is an image of the instrument. Some patients who have been to previous chiropractors are familiar with the Activator. Activator Methods is the most common instrument adjusting technique utilized in the chiropractic profession. The technique requires a series of tests and leg length checks to confirm misalignment to a certain region. Dr. Steinert is Level 2 certified in the Activator Methods technique. Although it’s not our primary technique, some patients request the Activator and are treated successfully. 

Just like the Impulse IQ, the Activator is a spring-loaded device that has different levels of velocity that are utilized in relation to bone size, and patient tolerance. Instead of continuous, rapid impulses, the Activator only requires a single impulse. The Activator has a specially designed spring that allows for a successful high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustment with a single impulse.       
Chiropractic Tools | Activator IV | Activator Methods

If you have any questions about this week’s content or want additional information about instrument adjusting, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and check out our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content.

Yours In Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, DC

Brian M. Steinert, DC