My neck has been killing me for months. I didn't do anything to hurt it, it just began hurting one day. My doctor ordered x-rays but nothing showed up so I've been living with it. Now my doctor wants me to see a psychologist to work on my pain. I'm not nuts, how can this help me?
Chronic pain is something that can be very difficult to treat, particularly if the cause of the pain was never pinpointed to begin with. If exercises, medications, and other physical techniques haven't worked, some doctors recommend behavior management as a way to help control the pain. This is done not because the doctors think the pain is in your head, but because sometimes we - unknowingly - increase our pain by our actions.
Some people catastrophize their pain. This means, they feel that if they do anything to cause pain, it will be horrendously unbearable, so they do as little as possible to lower the risk of developing their pain. Other people begin to fear the pain, so they, too, limit their activities and how they do things so they don't bring on the pain. However, sometimes these very actions do make pain worse.
By meeting with a therapist who is trained in working with people with chronic pain, you may be able to see if you are unwittingly making the pain worse, or you may learn coping techniques that make the pain feel less intense and bothersome.