I've been in treatment for low back pain for about six months. Now my doctor wants me to see a psychologist. What good will that do? I'm not depressed and I'm not a hypochondriac.

Pain that lasts longer than expected for the healing time needed is called chronic pain. Usually pain that lasts more than three months is chronic. Some doctors use six months as the defining point.

Many studies show that pain can affect mood and motivation. Sometimes we fall into thinking, "I can't do that because my pain won't let me." At other times, chronic pain patients change the way they move, or they stop trying certain actions because it might cause more pain. This is called avoidance behavior. Most of the time, patients don't know they are doing this.

A psychologist can help patients in these areas. They can help assess how much pain interferes with daily activities in your life. The goal is to get as much function back as possible, even if the pain doesn't go away.