Machines That Chiropractors Use

Chiropractic treatment is done primarily with the hands; as a matter of fact, the word is literally translated from the Greek words for “done by” (praktos) and “hand” (cheiros). Mix them together and you get “done by hand.” Although it’s typically a touch-oriented skill, your chiropractor does have quite a few tools at her disposal and she can call upon them to perform specialized tasks. Here is an overview of some of the equipment that you may see in the office and the individual uses that they each have.

(Note: The tools mentioned below may or may not be used at the different The Joint locations around the U.S. Most chiropractors practicing at The Joint, only use their hands and a table.)

Drop Table

A drop table is a padded adjusting table that allows the chiropractor to use the patient’s own weight to accomplish the adjustment. A portion of the table is raised or lowered to allow the chiropractor to target a specific area. The adjustment is accomplished when sufficient pressure is applied by hand to the affected area causing the table to drop.


An activator (what I always refer to as “the clicker”) is a small device that kind of resembles a pogo stick. It delivers a low-force, precise thrust to the vertebra without affecting any of the surrounding muscle. It takes much less force to make the adjustment when the muscles are not being activated. This device is often used on children or people that are suffering from acute pain.

Impulse Adjusting Instrument

An impulse adjusting instrument is very similar to an activator, but it also has the added benefit of being electronically controlled. It can be set to gradually increase in pressure as it sends quick repetitive thrusts into the affected area. This is a very precise treatment tool.

Traction Table

A traction table or roller table is a device that is used to decompress the vertebra, relieve pressure on compressed nerves, help to relax your muscles and reduce spasms. This therapy is a favorite among patients because it is very relaxing. The table works by rolling up and down the spine; your chiropractor may immobilize or restrain parts of your body to maximize the results. These are sometimes kept in a dark room in the clinic for added relaxation.

Ultrasonic Heat Devices

Ultrasonic heat devices are often used to apply direct heat at specific areas in order to loosen muscles, relieve pain and facilitate healing. It utilizes oscillating sound frequencies to apply the heat to the deep tissue directly, and can also be used to stimulate the nerves to help relieve pain.

As you can see, your chiropractor has a variety of tools that are designed to make sure that you receive the best treatment possible. If you have any questions, just ask your doctor. She should be happy to explain each tool to you and describe its function. 

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This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.