I had a car accident six months ago and suffered whiplash injury. After about six weeks, the painful symptoms went away, and I could move my head and neck normally. My neighbor had a similar accident. Two years later, she is still having trouble with her neck. Why is that?

Whiplash injuries are different depending on the force of impact, the position of the head and neck at the time of injury, and the age of the patient. In normal recovery, symptoms slowly get better. Head and neck function and ability to do daily activities improve gradually during the first six weeks.

In delayed recovery, only minimal or small improvements are reported. Six months later, painful symptoms prevent patients from doing activities. Other factors may contribute to these symptoms, including previous neck injury, older age, belief that there is a serious disease or problem, depression and anxiety, and poor coping skills.