Medical knowledge and the intractable patient: the case of chronic low back pain

May, Carl, Doyle, Helen and Grew-Graham, Carolyn (1999) Medical knowledge and the intractable patient: the case of chronic low back pain Social Science & Medicine, 48, (4), pp. 523-534. (doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00372-4).


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Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is endemic in Western societies, and while a good deal of attention has been paid to the lay experience of such pain, much less sociological attention has been paid to the way in which medical ideas about it have been formulated. This paper takes the latter course, tracing the development of clinical notions about the relationship between pathological signs and expressed symptoms from the 1820's to the 1930's, and then placing these developments in the context of postwar notions of ‘somatization'. We point to the extent to which the disparity between expressed symptoms, pathological signs and perceived disability in CLBP has led to the moral character of the sufferer forming a constant subtext to medical discourse about the condition. We also note the extent to which medical ideas themselves have been constructed in intimate linkage with socio-legal questions of compensation and worker's insurance.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00372-4
ISSNs: 0277-9536 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: low back pain, medical discourse, somatization

ePrint ID: 163405
Date :
Date Event
February 1999Published
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2010 08:36
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 03:44
Further Information:Google Scholar

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