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Chiropractor’s Tools for Lower Back Pain

My Favorite Tools in my Toolbox

Chiropractors perform a variety of manual therapies designed to relieve pain and restore motion in the low back, neck and extremities. Spinal adjustments, soft tissue manipulation, and joint stabilization are but a few of the ways we encourage healing and prevent injuries. While my own two hands are my primary tools, I also employ a host of effective tool-assisted modalities that allow me to diagnose and treat extremely specific trigger points.

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Here are a few of my favorites.

The Activator

It may sound like an action figure or superhero, but it’s actually a low-impact, high-velocity handheld instrument used to perform gentle, neurological-based chiropractic adjustments to the spine and extremities, and I love it in the treatment of low back pain. The Activator is a spring-loaded device that works by sending a quick but low-force impulse to specific points in the body with an action so quick the patient is less likely to tense muscles in resistance, which often results in more effective outcomes.

This precise adjusting technique is excellent for isolating the root cause of many painful neurological or muscular problems and because it does not involve torque or twist of the spine, it is extremely useful to patients with injuries, instabilities, muscle imbalances, hypersensitivities, or concerns about bone density.


Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation

Soft tissue manipulation refers to deep chiropractic massage designed to break up restricted fascia, the web-like covering surrounding every muscle, ligament and nerve in the body.

Usually extremely pliable, fascia can, over time, after injury or post surgery, build up with mineral deposits, byproducts of lactic acid, or scar tissue causing it to tighten painfully and limit mobility. Injury or chronic stress to the lower back can cause distortions in the way the tissue connects to the bone. Freeing it up allows for easier, pain-free movement. 

While tools are not necessary for effective soft tissue manipulation, they can dramatically accelerate the rehab process with skilled use.  I frequently rely on a number of these devices, including the Faktr instrument, which is a smooth hand-held metal instrument.  This allows me to work even more deeply into the fascia to break up adhesions and scar tissue and drive anti-inflammatory ointments into the skin when treating soft tissue injuries or chronic pain.


Flexion Distraction Therapy

Flexion Distraction is an advanced, traction based therapy commonly used to manage the symptoms of lumbar disc injuries, and various other low back complaints with great success. It is a safe, gentle, and nonsurgical therapeutic procedure. It involves the use of a specialized table that simultaneously distracts (stretches) and flexes the spine in a gentle cyclical motion. This motion allows compressed disc spaces to increase, reducing the pressure inside the disc and allows the gelatinous disc that has been absorbing the force of gravity for your spine to spread out and fill up with fluid.
The flexion movement of intervertebral joints allows your body to produce more lubricating joint fluid between the disc spaces. This helps to reduce pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves ultimately improving spinal structure, increasing range of motion and reducing pain.


Videos about some of Dr. Massey’s Tools:

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