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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).

Record type: Article


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.

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Published date: February 1999
Keywords: low back pain, medical discourse, somatization


Local EPrints ID: 163405
ISSN: 0277-9536
PURE UUID: c4b216bd-60f3-4064-a6c9-080d1fc5513f
ORCID for Carl May: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 09 Sep 2010 08:36
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:31

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Author: Carl May ORCID iD
Author: Helen Doyle
Author: Carolyn Grew-Graham

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