Chiropractic activator technique

See an abstract of a medical paper on the use of the activator technique in coccydynia

Doctors who use the technique can be found at:

But also note, Richard wrote: My sister has a normal tailbone, until a chiropractor used an activator to carry out an adjustment to her tailbone incorrectly, and she is now in agony most days.

Steve Perry, who was successfully treated with the Activator instrument writes:

The activator procedure turns out to be a standard and common chiropractic method. 'Activator' is both the name of the technique and the instrument used. The instrument looks rather like a combination syringe and a pogo stick and has a length of about 20cm. It has a hard rubber foot with a diameter of an index finger along with an adjustable spring tensioner which presets the applied force. When pushed down it delivers a small controlled mechanical shock or "punch" to the specific area it is in contact with. As with most chiropractic adjustments, they are done gently and with as little force as possible.

For me, it was applied along the entire coccyx several dozen times. Most of my pain seemed to be at the tip, and none of the activator applications caused pain. The relief was nearly immediate. I am still getting treatment, and although after each treatment I feel better, the recovery is now slower. After four treatments, I can sit most of the day and not be conscious of the pain. Perhaps I'm at the 80% recovery point. Progress is much slower now, and there is a persistent dull ache that I can almost forget about. The pain upon rising unaided from a sitting position (which in itself characterizes this particular type of coccygodynia) has also largely abated.

I will continue to go for activator treatments for another week and then switch over to high quality ergonomic seating. After monitoring that progress, I will see what exercise will do... something that should be done anyway. I'm attempting to change only one thing at a time so that the effects can be more accurately observed.

A week later: Last treatment on Monday was most aggressive yet with more and higher Activator treatment forces. Two days later I'm at the 90% point up from 80%. I'm ecstatic!

Since there are many different problems of varying magnitude with the coccyx, it is common sense to me that this type of treatment will only work in limited cases. My symptoms and results were nearly identical as the patient described in the paper written by Polkinghorn and Colloca, only I never took NSAIDS or other types of pain-relievers. But I did wait about 3 weeks before seeking medical help, and after no clear signs of remission.

The pattern that is developing based on my readings is one where those that get relief are people who sit a lot and have had some type of previous micro-trauma to the area which sets off the condition. In my case, there were two physically stressful situations that may have triggered the condition just prior to noticing pain. However, there was no immediate connection, because the pain did not manifest itself until at least a week after these stressful periods. To complicate the situation further, I did have extreme trauma to my lower spine about 12 years ago when I fell 3 vertical meters on ice and fractured my sacrum. Other factors may be sitting at a computer for 12-14 hours a day. My lower spine is considerably out of alignment, curving towards the rear more than it should, but above the coccyx area. My chairs are not of ergonomic design, but will be soon!

Steve Perry

A chiropractor who uses the Activator Method, writes:


I am a chiropractor who practices the Activator Method. I fell in 1998 and have had on-going problems with my coccyx. I found a device that makes sitting much more pleasant, as it removes pressure from the area of involvement! Relaxo-Bak ( $5 to $10) Anderson, IN 46011, 800-527-5496 (Toll-Free) at least, here in the states!

My personal experience has been very favorable with coccyx injuries! I have adjusted dozens, possibly several hundred in fifteen years. I only know of one woman who required other interventions. In my most humble opinion and rationalizations, I believe this woman's coccyx was deflected entirely anterior ward. However, I have no way of knowing this, as I had never seen any imaging of her sacro-coccygeal area prior to her fall on a cement floor.

When looking at the coccyx on plain film radiographs, I have never been able to determine what the ideal position of the coccyx should be. What would appears to be malpositioning in one individual is an asymptomatic state-of-bliss for another person. Is there any "norms" for the positioning of this structure? It's always been my rationalization, that an anteriorward displacement of the coccyx can only be repositioned rectally.

My coccyx was rectally- manually adjusted, but now I believe the hypertonic '"pelvic floor muscles" should have been addressed prior to this insult to this joint and my central nervous system. I believe the unaddressed hypertonic muscles eventually resubluxated my coccyx within a short period of time. Thanks, to your website and specifically, the bulletin board, I have noted that I have extreme pain when digital pressure is applied to the sacro-coccygeal joint. This led me to start icing this area at the most superior aspect of the gluteal crease...with great results! If necessary, I may have to make a trip down to CLEAR PASSAGES in Gainesville, FL, to have the surrounding musculature brought into a relaxed state. Duke Univ., here in N Carolina, has a PT program that addresses these pelvic floor muscles, but I like the sounds of a PT/Massage therapist combination, as I wouldn't just let anyone probe this area! I think you know what I mean!

When I had my fall on a flight of cement steps, I was in the process of moving from Georgia to North Carolina. So, I left the best chiropractic care I had ever received. And yes, it was at the hands of a woman who is not an instructor with Activator Methods, but is requested by Activator Methods to assist at their seminars in the Atlanta area. Unfortunately, not all the chiropractors on the Activator website are proficient with the technique. And in some cases, this is a gross understatement. All that said, I wish I could have received "more specific" care, but geography and the "traveling side of my anatomy" seemed to limit my traveling. I' ve never experienced pain of this variety, but this type of pain is beyond excruciating!

"THANK-YOU," a million times over for taking the time to assemble a website for your fellow sufferers!

Sorry, I became verbose! Adjustments of the coccyx usually respond very quickly and dramatically!

Updated 2004-02-01

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