A clash of beliefs: why our western approach to pain didn’t work in a rural Zulu community

Low back pain (LBP) is a major health disorder that has been researched thoroughly in the western world context, but poorly in the context of the developing world.  Western attitudes towards LBP, as well as the way in which it is assessed and managed in the western context, may have limited relevance for the developing world. This recently published paper by some of the Pain-Ed team reflects on the experiences of two recent physiotherapy graduates working in a rural Zulu community in South Africa. It highlights the range of influences (socioeconomic, lifestyle and cultural) on women who presented with LBP, and the challenges they faced in adjusting their perspective on LBP to the rural Zulu context. Treating LBP in a holistic manner may require clinicians to be flexible in how they deal with different cultural beliefs, language and lifestyle contexts.


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