Automatic Activator VS Shockwave

02 Jul 2019
Health Articles

What is Activator ?

An activator is a small handheld instrument used by Chiropractors to deliver a short, quick and low force impulse to the spinal joint to restore motion of the joint.  Warren Lee, DC and Arlan Fuhr, DC invented the activator method in 1967. The treatment goal is targeted at the joints to restore alignment without triggering muscle resistance.

What is ESWT?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy technology was derived from lithotripsy, a hi-tech medical procedure used by Urologists to remove kidney stones from kidney and urethra from the outside of the body. ESWT produces a tensile force by the negative pressure to induce the physical effects, such as cavitation, increasing the permeability of cell membranes and ionization of biological molecules. The doctors realized patient who undergone lithotripsy has reduced back pain, higher bone density and improved cell regeneration.

Application Comparison

Activator mechanism involves a low force high speed physical trust to the targeted vertebra (spine bone), to adjust the bone back to healthy position. ESWT on the other hand, is a very powerful high speed high power shock applied to muscle/tendon/ligament/bone to create multiple healing effect on the tissue at the same time.

Cell Proliferation

In layman term, it means rapid cell growth.

Clinical studies was carried out by applying ESWT on human tendon cells (tenocytes) of 3 patients who were undergoing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. The result of the experiment shows that the cell differentiation activities was increased. at the same time, scientist also observed increase in the collagen production from ESWT application. In another word, ESWT make our tissues younger, and firmer.

This characteristics make ESWT very suitable for sport injuries recovery. On the other hand, there is no studies on the effect of activator therapy in cell proliferation.


Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessel. When blood circulation is obstructed for prolonged period, the blood capillary of the affected body tissue degenerate. The number of blood vessel become lesser over time.

Poor blood circulation can be due to many reasons. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition are among the common causes. Another cause of poor blood circulation that seldom known is subluxation. Subluxation is a misalignment of spine. The blood capillary of the spine can be pinched by subluxation. Once the blood vessel is pinched, the patient tend to feel numbness and soreness over the affected area. The muscle group also tend to get tired easily from bad circulation. Latic acid will also built up.

Clinical test shows that ESWT can promote angiogenesis. The experiment was carried out to diabetic rats. Result shows that the rats who has poor blood flow in extremities was observed with new blood capillary after ESWT treatment at the rat's penis. Other than treating numbness, this characteristic also make ESWT a good treatment instrument for Erectile Dysfunction.

On the other hand, automatic activator do not promote angiogenesis at all. The device is targeted to the vertebra alone.

Removal of Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid build up during anerobic exercises. Anerobic exercise is a type of exercise carried out without sufficient oxygen supply to the muscle tissue.

Under normal condition, our muscle group absorb enough oxygen to metabolize sugar into water and carbon dioxide to produce energy. However, in high energy demand and explosive sports such as sprinting, the blood stream cannot deliver enough oxygen to cope with the metabolism demand. Instead of water, the sugar is broken down into lactic acid. Lactic acid built up causes muscle soreness after sports.

ESWT treatment promotes blood circulation. As a result, the metabolic wastes are quickly removed. Athletes in Olympic games used ESWT for muscle recovery between competitions to reduce muscle fatigues.


Activator is a special instrument that is used by chiropractors to make physical spinal adjustment. There is a huge difference compared to ESWT which has wider application in tissue recovery at cellular level. ESWT involves a more advanced technology, and requires much higher cost to operate. Activator is only used by chiropractor while ESWT is widely applied outside chiropractic treatment due to its broad healing effect.