MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Recently, I was asked about the ‘Dorn Method’. In alternative medicine, it sometimes seems that everyone who manages to write his family name correctly has inaugurated his very own therapy. It is therefore a tall order to aim at blogging about them all. But that’s been my goal all along, and after more than 1 000 posts, I am still far from achieving it.

So, what is the Dorn Method?

A website dedicated to it provides some first-hand information. Here are a few extracts (numbers in brackets were inserted by me and refer to my comments below):

START OF QUOTE

Developed by Dieter Dorn in the 1970’s in the South of Germany, it is now fast becoming the widest used therapy for Back Pain and many Spinal Disorders in Germany (1).

The Dorn Method ist presented under different names like Dornmethod, Dorntherapy, Dorn Spinal Therapy, Dorn-Breuss Method, Dorn-XXname-method and (should) have as ‘core’ the same basic principles.

There are many supporters of the Dorn Method (2) but also Critics (see: Dorn controversy) and because it is a free (3) Method and therefore not bound to clear defined rules and regulations, this issue will not change so quickly.

The Method is featured in numerous books and medical expositions (4), taught to medical students in some universities (5), covered by most private medical insurances (6) and more and more recognized in general (7).

However because it is fairly new and not developed by a Medical Professional it is often still considered an alternative Healing Method and it is meant to stay FREE of becoming a registered trademark, following the wish of the Founder Dieter Dorn (†2011) who did NOT execute his sole right to register this Method as the founder, this Method must become socalled Folk Medicine.

As of now only licensed Therapists, Non Medical Practitioners (in Germany called Heilpraktiker (Healing Practitioners with Government recognition) (8), Physical Therapists or Medical Doctors are authorized to practice with government license, but luckily the Dorn Method is mainly a True Self Help Method therefore all other Dorn Method Practitioners can legally help others by sharing it in this way (9).

What conditions can be treated with the Dorn Method? Every disease, even up to the psychological domain can be treated (positively influenced) unless an illness had already led to irreversible damages at organs (10). The main areas of application are: Muscle-Skeletal Disorders (incl. Back Pain, Sciatica, Scoliosis, Joint-Pain, Muscular Tensions, Migraines etc.)

END OF QUOTE

My brief comments:

  1. This is a gross exaggeration.
  2. Clearly another exaggeration.
  3. Not ‘free’ in the sense of costing nothing, surely!
  4. Yet another exaggeration.
  5. I very much doubt that.
  6. I also have difficulties believing this statement.
  7. I see no evidence for this.
  8. We have repeatedly discussed the Heilpraktiker on this blog, see for instance here, here and here.
  9. Sorry, but I fail to understand the meaning of this statement.
  10. I am always sceptical of claims of this nature.

By now, we all are keen to know what evidence there might be to suggest that the Dorn Method works. The website of the Dorn Method claims that there are 4 different strands of evidence:

START OF QUOTE

1. A new form of manual therapy and self help method which is basically unknown in conventional medicine until now, with absolutely revolutionary new knowledge. It concerns for example the manual adjustment of a difference in length of legs as a consequence of a combination of subluxation of the hip-joint (subluxation=partly luxated=misaligned) and a subluxation of the joints of sacrum (Ilio-sacral joint) and possible knee and ankle joints. The longer leg is considered the ‘problem’-leg and Not the shorter leg as believed in classical medicine and chiropractic.

2. The osteopathic knowledge that there is a connection of each vertebra and its appropriate  spinal segment to certain inner organs. That means that when there are damages at these structures, disturbances of organic functions are the consequence, which again are the base for the arising of diseases.

3. The knowledge of the Chinese medicine, especially of acupuncture and meridian science that the organic functions are stirred and leveled, also among each other, via the vegetative nervous system

4. The natural-scientific  knowledge of anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry and other domains.

END OF QUOTE

One does not need to be a master in critical thinking to realise that these 4 strands amount to precisely NOTHING in terms of evidence for the Dorn Method. I therefore conducted several searches and have to report that, to the best of my knowledge, there is not a jot of evidence to suggest that the Dorm Method is more than hocus-pocus.

In case you wonder what actually happens when a patient – unaware of this lack of evidence – consults a clinician using the Dorn Method, the above website provides us with some interesting details:

START OF QUOTE

First the patients leg length is controlled and if necessary corrected in a laying position. The hip joint is brought to a (more or less) 90 degree position and the leg is then brought back to its straight position while guiding the bones back into its original place with gentle pressure.

picture link to dorn therapy pictures

This can be done by the patient and it is absolutely safe, easy and painless!

The treatment of Knees and Ankles should then follow with the same principals: Gentle pressure towards the Joint while moving it from a bended to a more straight position.

After the legs the pelvis is checked for misalignment and also corrected if necessary in standing position.

Followed by the lumbar vertebrae and lower thoracic columns, also while standing upright.

Then the upper thoracic vertebrae are checked, corrected if necessary, and finally the cervical vertebrae, usually in a sitting position.

The treatment often is continued by the controlling and correction of other joints like the shoulders, elbow, hands and others like the jaw or collarbone.

END OF QUOTE

Even if we disregard the poor English used throughout the text, we cannot possibly escape the conclusion that the Dorn Method is pure nonsense. So, why do some practitioners practice it?

The answer to this question is, of course, simple: There is money in it!

“Average fees for Dorn Therapy sessions range from about 40€ to 100€ or more…  Average fees for Dorn Method Seminars range from about 180€ to 400€ in most developed countries for a two day basic or review or advanced training.”

SAY NO MORE!

 

 

 

23 Responses to The ‘Dorn Method’ – relatively new and totally bogus

  • “the vegetative nervous system”

    An apt choice of phrase, seeing how the average altie enjoys the CNS acuity of an elderly sack of spuds.

  • Excellent! More blood-pressure rising material!
    I have for years sought a dialectic with “Alternative-logic” practitioners I meet (homeopathic, Chiropractic, scientologist, reflexologist, acupuncturist, Christian scientist etc etc) as to WHAT they think is/are (with their albeit limited cognitive-potential) the “real” nonsensical, unsubstantiated, lunatic “alternative-methodologies”(?).
    That is if they ‘practice’ Chiropractic or homeopathy etc WHAT is the standard and criteria to which THEY use to adjudicate, deduce and/or recognize a “real” health care fraud? (Of course we all know it’s the pharmacist, MD and PhD….but admittedly it’s been a futile endeavor).
    Its a pet project to do an in-depth survey of alternative-logic practitioners and find out what “things” they think are just too crazy too bear? I suspect the Dorn-method is simply an inbred sister to Chiropractic so criticism of it would hit too close to home and they’d immediately recognize they’d be dropping a grenade in their own pants. I figure that’s why nut-jobs tend to stick together…and make “science & logic” the real enemies.
    “Logic is the devils’ whore” as a bishop of Canterbury famously opined.

  • Your critic is appreciated and I agree that statements about The Dorn Method are often controversal and not proven by socalled official studies or better eductated specialist with impressive titles like MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd. Did you ever personally experienced a Dorn session? I am a poor self help coach with poor english skills but I am open for critics, willing to learn but with the right to share my opinion and if this creates reactions like yours a discussion can start and may lead to more experience that others can benefit from. If you have not yet experience DORN I invite you to do that with me before giving judgements based on words. If you still think the same after I am willing to re-write all content with your help.

    • i do not make judgements ‘based on words’ nor on personal experience. I prefer those on evidence.
      perhaps you should read this: edzardernst.com/2012/11/what-is-and-what-isnt-clinical-evidence-and-why-is-the-distinction-important/

      • I understand and value your opinion. I wish that independent studies, the way you suggest, are done on DORN to show evidence for or against but unfortunately there seems to be no interest investing into this and it would be very difficult to gain evidence from such studies as all patient are different and practitioners that treat patients can never do things exact the same way but I still would support such motions. I see DORN as a self help method and not as therapy and maybe I use lots of easy to misunderstand explanations that require improvements. The main message behind DORN: We should focus on getting the whole system (physical, non physical) into the best possible balance first and therefore establish a foundation for self-healing. All additional help from therapies, medication or medical procedures that promotes healing should be integrated. Your work is valuable and critics necessary I only wish for a more open mind without negative comments to approaches that does not harm people like DORN (unless there are studies that prove this). Everybody has the right to make their own experiences and some of your words (like “totally bogus”) does not encourage to make these but creates fear. Is this what you want?

        • as no studies exist, we can only conclude that the method is unproven; and no therapeutic claims should be made for unproven methods!
          [“all patient are different and practitioners that treat patients can never do things exact the same way but I still would support such motions”; that does not prevent clinical trials from being conducted]

        • @Thomas Zudrell

          “I wish that independent studies, the way you suggest, are done on DORN to show evidence for or against but unfortunately there seems to be no interest investing into this.” Don’t you think that independent studies should be done before anyone makes claims or takes money for a “wholistic [sic], effective, safe and Non-manipulative therapy to correct misalignments in the spine and joints”?

          How would you react to someone who comes along with a whole new, simple way to beat the stock market; and wants to sell you their book on the method?

          “We should focus on getting the whole system (physical, non physical) into the best possible balance first and therefore establish a foundation for self-healing.” What is the “best possible balance”? Are you better balanced after a good night’s sleep or after a day’s hard work? Are you better balanced on Mondays than on Wednesdays? Do you not have any clue what a vacuous, meaningless statement it is to talk about ‘balance’ in the body (unless someone’s suffering from a middle ear problem)?

          “Everybody has the right to make their own experiences.” That’s fine, but someone’s ‘own experiences’ are no substitute for objective evidence; otherwise we’d all believe in ghosts, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, astrology and a flat earth, to name but a few items in the tip of the iceberg of superstitious delusion. has has already pointed out: the burden of proof lies with the maker of the claim. (Thanks to has’s pseudonym for giving me the opportunity to begin a sentence with the words ‘has has’ without an initial capital letter!)

    • You have a terribly broken understanding† of Burden of Proof and where it lies. Why don’t you go fix that first, and then get back to us?

      (†SOP for altmed peddlers and their apologists, unsurprisingly.)

    • @TZ: I estimate there are 35 “well accepted” Chiropractic ‘techniques’…many named for their inventor or main proponent. In PT there are an equal number (they regularly come & go based on current trends and the motivation of a bold entrepreneur…..virtually NEVER driven by well done, ad hoc research).
      So within structured, college-based, government sanctioned and insurance-covered professions there are still innumerable tentacles of (mostly) un-proven, unresearched, guru driven hyperbolic-methods with their dogmatic and motivated devotees (and of course ALL claim to fix “80%”….funny how that sounds impressive until one recognizes 95% of symptoms go away on their own).
      And ALL claim “proof-by-testimonial” and invent spurious mechanisms of action.
      The Dorn-method is just one more testimony-driven, pseudo-structural, pseudo-neurologic, entrepreneurial claim jumper.
      So get in line you have A LOT of competition…

  • Thanks for all the comments I surely will re-think the words we use in our socalled unproven claims but I will not stop to help people that come and ask for help and I will not tell them that I cannot treat them because what I do is totally bogus and there is no prove (evidence) that DORN does any good. I really like people and feel happy to be asked for help you gentlemen seemy to be more interested in creating doubts and fear how sad is that. I may think of leaving my church (religion) also because the is no proven evidence based on real studies that god exists. Why does this all make you so reactive?. PR managers would love this I guess. What are you afraid of? I helped thousands and most without payment so did Dieter Dorn.

    • “What are you afraid of?”

      Dead people. Crippled people. Lots and lots of dead and crippled people. Something True Believers are frighteningly good at creating, without so much as a second thought, all because their unproven unchallenged religious belief system tells them that they are Right and therefore anyone who says otherwise is Wrong.

      Your claim that you “helped” others often “without payment” is laughable on two fronts: 1. Where is the objective evidence that your actions produce more positive outcomes than neutral/negative ones; and 2. everyone here knows True Believers are as often motivated by the enormous ego stroke and sense of power it provides them as by cold hard allopathic cash.

      Now, nobody here has a problem with people being rewarded for doing genuinely good work, so where’s all your homework that shows that you have? Don’t just assert your conclusion and declare it correct, because that’s not how burden of proof works: show us all your workings that explain how you arrived at that answer and not any other.

      “Evidence or GTFO”, as they say in Science.

      So let’s turn it about, and start with an easy one first: Why are you so frightened to doubt your own unquestioned beliefs and motives? Sure you probably do believe that you’re helping, but when was the last time you stopped to ask yourself “But what if I’m not?” Hell, Florence Nightingale asked herself this question a hundred and fifty years ago, knee deep in pain and blood, and completely invented statistical maths just so she could calculate the answer correctly.

      Now what have you done to test your own beliefs, prejudices, and assumptions recently?

      • “Dead people. Crippled people” There is no law to report such things done by manual techniques to a governments institution for statistics.

        Therefore there is no good statistics to support such sentences mentioned above either.

        Everybody knows that such things are reported from high velocity low amplitude manipulations to the spine and from visceral manipulation and therefore it is necessary to put manual therapies under the same regulations as adverse drug reactions have to be reported to a governments institution for statistics.

        Dorn therapy doesn’t use high velocity low amplitude manipulations like chiropractic or manual odteopathic treatment so in my opinion there are no higher risks like in medical massage therapy.

        Dorn therapy originally was created on the country side to treat some minor functional disorders of the movement apparatus by your own. Dorn took over this and sold it under his name and now it is a whole system with posthum added istromechanistic and vitalistic explanations coming from everywhere out of alternative treatments.

  • Sorry to say but we already discussed the unbelievable effect of the “physicum” (the physicians training in natural sciences) and why it leads millions of physicians to do homeopathy chiropractic bioresonance European/Commonwealth manual osteopathy
    Dorn method and thousands of other alternative methods and I mean it’s an illusion to change this because nobody is interested to change the physician’s study programs and the health insurances pay the physicians to practice this…

    There is no training in functional disorders of the movement apparatus in a physicians training and no department in medicine for the whole movement apparatus.
    The movement apparatus is divided into orthopedic surgery neurology rheumatology a.s.o.
    Therefore a lot of alternative methods depending on iatromechanic and vitalistic explanations take over this field.

    Related to the Dorn method I found this physician and explanation in the internet and isn’t it just an example for what I said?

    http://www.hoesle.ch/naturheilverfahren/wirbelsaeulentherapie

    http://www.personal-healthcare.ch/media/files/Beschrieb_DornMethode.pdf

  • HI i just want to add my experience of Dorn therapy, last year i was in excruciating pain with my back, my G.P done all he possibly could for me but that only went as far as giving me painkillers, anti inflamatory’s, etc.
    I was told by several people about this gentleman who is amazing and has helped them with their numerous back problems, i was born a skeptic and dont believe in faith healers and the like but i was assured this wasnt like that so i thought id give it a try as i was in agony.
    Now the treatment wasnt free, but it was certainly worth every penny i walked in bent over wincing and came out standing straight and didnt need another session or the usual come back every week for six weeks, i was given a simple exercise to do before bed.
    Now i cant speak for any other Dorn practicianer other than the man i saw but i can say he was VERY effective at taking away my pain and making me walk and work again, i have a smallfarm and furniture shop so im constantly bending and lifting with.
    Like i said this is my experience and i thought id share it, thanks.

    • I am afraid that your case tells us little about the effectiveness of this therapy. we cannot possibly know whether you would have improved less, more, or in a similar way, if you had not received any treatment at all. this is why, one needs clinical trials for such judgements.

  • I recommend the Dorn Method all the time – have found it to be 100% effective!

    • Thanks for the testimonial, Karen. Would you mind taking the time to tell us for which condition(s) you have found it to be 100% effective and how you went about assessing its efficacy?

    • @Karen: so happy someone else besides me has found the Dorn Method to be “100% effective”! I was beginning to think I was the only one having this delusion!
      We are talking about “Reverend Billy Bob Dorn’s Method” for correcting pelvic misalignments, constipation, devil-possession and acne….correct? Cause that other guy, Dieter Dorn is a total fraud. I wouldn’t want to get the two confused.

  • Dorn Method is a self Help Exercise or Self help Method, Happy to see people showing interest towards Dorn Method either an appreciation or criticism, People asks for evidences, unfortunately none of the studies in the world towards any modality has concluded with a proper evidence

  • As a manual therapy to improve spinal-alignment and postural mis-alignments the Dorn Method works absolute wonders. The negative comments on this web-site is totally unfounded. As I am sure that Edzard has never even experienced a single treatment.
    Just because it is not scientifically proven, doesn’t mean that there is no benefit in it. And as for charging for the treatment, how biased are you really, because I am sure you charge(or have charged)for your time spend with clients.
    Dorn practitioners spend atleast 30min to an hour with a client for much less money than a whole lot of other practitioner do.
    For me the proof is in the pudding. Helping people to have a better quality of life, with less pain with absolute minimal chance of hurting them certainly is a therapy that is worth it.

    • “Just because it is not scientifically proven, doesn’t mean that there is no benefit in it.”
      VERY TRUE!
      But it means the method is unproven – and responsible clinicians tend to rely on proven therapies; and ethical clinicians inform their patients about the unproven nature of the therapies, if they do use them nevertheless.

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