Why Is The Rusty Door Hinge Theory Important Sioux City

Why Is The Rusty Door Hinge Theory Important Sioux City

Rusty Door Hinge Theory
The Rusty Door Hinge Theory is my personal phrase to describe stuck and sore joints. We are all familiar with a rusty door hinge that locks up and prevents movement. We have all had a yard gate that rusts over with winter months. It takes a fair amount of work rocking the gate to restore movement to the hinge and break the rust.



To break the rust, we have several options:

  1. We can very gently begin to rock the hinge, adding more and more force until it starts to move.
  2. We could give several small kicks to the gate to break the rust.
  3. We could give a giant kick to the gate and see if it breaks either the rust or the gate in the process.
Joints are like rusty door hinges

Rusty Door Hinge- Joints need to move or they “rust shut.” Treatments improves motion in “Rusty Hinges.”

Most patients prefer not be kicked when they are in severe amounts of pain, but the theory does correlate with joint pain and motion. When joints are injured, the the muscles that guard the joints begin to spasm and prevent movement. There are small sensors in the joint that sense the increased pressure and begin to send pain signals to the brain.  Usually, movement sensors in the joints send signals to the brain saying everything is “OK”.


This is often the cause of back pain. When joints do not move, the signal that travels to the brain says, “Ouch, I’m hurting!” The brain responds by causing back muscles to spasm “to protect the joint.” However, more muscle spasms cause an increased jamming of the joint surfaces and increased pain signals to the brain. This process creates a feedback loop of more spasms and pain. This cycle will continue until something breaks the feedback loop and allows for joint movement.


Since my state Chiropractic Board will not let me kick patients, we instead use several “approved treatment modalities” for back pain.  Treatments allow movement in the joint without exerting tremendous amounts of force. The most common way to accomplish this in a chiropractic office is with the Activator Technique, which utilizes a small handheld device with a spring to “tap or nudge that joint forward.”


Chandler Gentle Chiropractic

Activator Technique is a very Gentle Adjustment. It feels like a light tap, and does not cause a popping sound.

The Thompson Drop utilizes table movement to “push the joint open.” Sometimes, we can utilize standard manual manipulation, but not with severe muscle spasms or pain. Flexion distraction therapy is a great treatment for stretching the lower back out and gently rocking the joints to increase pain-free movement. This would be similar to a slow and controlled rock on the yard gate.


traction table.

Inside of roller table. It helps to gently rock the joints to improve pain free motion and “break the rust.”

Another way to help rock the joints is an intersegmental traction table or roller table. The tables have large rollers that gently rock the back up and down.  It is used in a pain-free range of motion, and the height is adjusted as needed.  Many times we have had people in acute and severe lower back pain who can hardly lay on the table, but once it starts, you hear a sigh of relief and see a smile across their face. The gentle rock of the table produces the pain relief they had been seeking.


In later stages, we can utilize light back exercises and stretches to increase joint range of motion without pain. Heat, ice, ultrasound, or electric therapies can help decrease muscle spasms and increase joint motion.


Patients suffering from severe lower back pain feel significantly better when the joints begin move. Gently rocking those joints sends normal movement signals to the brain and helps decrease our pain sensation. This can be accomplished through these therapies and treatments in the chiropractic office. Treatment goals are to decrease pain and increase pain-free motion. It is helping to “break the rust” and the muscle spasms to produce better movement and get you back to normal.


Activator Technique
Low back Pain
Back Exercises
Commonly Asked Questions