To describe a case of symptomatic lumbar disc herniation, successfully treated via chiropractic intervention using Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique.


A 26-yr-old man suffered from a chronic multisymptom complex composed of low back pain, left groin pain, left leg pain, left foot drop and associated muscle weakness with atrophy. The symptoms had persisted for more than 2 yr after an athletic injury. Magnetic resonance imaging evaluation revealed a 6-mm focal central disc protrusion with accompanying deformation of the thecal sac, consistent with the presenting symptoms. Lumbar spinal surgery had been recommended to the patient as the appropriate medical management for optimal outcome.


The patient elected to pursue chiropractic treatment in an effort to resolve his condition via conservative management. Chiropractic intervention consisted of mechanical-force, manually assisted short-lever adjusting procedures, rendered via an Activator Adjusting Instrument (AAI). The patient responded favorably and his multisymptom complex resolved within 90 days of treatment. No residuals or recurrences were noted at examination over 1 yr later.


This report suggests that chiropractic treatment of lumbar disc disorders may be effectively implemented, in certain cases, via mechanical-force, manually assisted adjusting procedures using an AAI. We speculate that the use of an AAI, combined with Activator methods, may provide definitive benefits over side-posture manipulation of the lumbar spine in treatment of resistive disc lesions, because of the lack of torsional stress imposed upon the disc during instrumental spinal adjustment. Further study should be made in this regard to determine the safest and most effective method to treat lumbar disc lesions in a chiropractic setting.

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1998 Mar-Apr;21(3):187-96. [PMID:9567239]

Author information: Polkinghorn BS, Colloca CJ. Private practice of chiropractic, Santa Monica, CA, USA.