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Social and Cultural Constructs of Pain

presented by Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Adriaan Louw receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. Adriaan Louw has no competing financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.


 Non-Financial: Adriaan Louw has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Pain is a normal part of human existence: Everyone experiences it, but not everyone experiences it in the same way. An individual's social support system and cultural differences shape their pain experience and can have a significant impact on their prognosis and treatment. This course will explore the bio-psycho-social aspects of pain, with particular attention given to the social and cultural constructs of pain. The course will also answer the question of "So what?," offering clinical applications related to these social and cultural constructs. Getting a handle on pain peculiarities will equip therapists to point their treatment plans in a direction that fosters meaningful change in the lives of their patients.

Meet Your Instructor

Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

Adriaan earned his undergraduate, master's degree and PhD in physiotherapy from the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa. He is an adjunct faculty member at St. Ambrose University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, teaching pain science. Adriaan has taught throughout the US and internationally for 25 years at numerous national and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Social Support and Pain

Social connection is a fundamental need for human beings. This chapter will explore the relationship between social support and pain, and will demonstrate that lack of support is correlated with risk for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Clinical applications for facilitating socialization are discussed.

2. Ethnicity, Culture and Pain

Ethnicity and culture play an important role in how people experience and express pain. If these differences are not properly understood by health care practitioners, patients can be perceived as “abnormal,” detrimentally affecting their treatment. This chapter provides an overview of the two main responses to pain and suggests ways in which to navigate the waters of cultural diversity in treating pain patients.

3. Nature vs. Nurture

An individual’s propensity towards chronic pain is influenced by both nature and nurture. This chapter explores the relationship between genetics and pain, as well as that of parental influences and learned behaviors regarding pain. Clinical considerations are explored as therapists seek to influence how their patients (and their parents) approach pain.

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