Watch Your Back:

How Spinal Pain Can Change Lives

Do you have a spinal injury and has it changed your life? Our Personal Injury may be able to help you.

Injuries to the neck and back are some of the most common problems arising from accidents.

A great deal of this is because of road accidents. Motor insurers have long complained of a ‘whiplash epidemic’, although claims that 80% of UK road accident claims are for whiplash, compared with 3% in France are misleading (the 80% figure is for claims ‘including’ whiplash, meaning someone who breaks a leg but also has a couple of days of neck pain is counted as making a whiplash claim; in France the law makes it almost impossible to claim for whiplash).

Whiplash is caused by damage to the muscles and ligaments around the neck and back. In itself it is not a serious injury, but try telling that to anyone who has actually suffered it. As humans have evolved to stand upright, we ask much more of our spines than other animals. If you strain a muscle in your leg you can rest it by sitting down. Muscles around the spine, on the other hand, are always working, almost whatever you are doing. They hold your head up, they help work your arms, they keep you upright when walking, standing or sitting, and the base of your back around the pelvis is the base from which you control the movement in your legs.

In short, you can’t escape the fact that you have to use your back and neck. If you have a whiplash injury, the pain is always there and even a ‘minor’ whiplash lasting a few weeks can be a miserable experience.

Fortunately, most cases of whiplash get better reasonably quickly. Treatment can include painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with the pain, and sometimes treatment such as physiotherapy to help strengthen the damaged muscles. The treatment is usually aimed at keeping mobile and exercising the injured area. 

However, not all back injuries are whiplash. Some can be much more serious, such as the example here of a lady whose back was vulnerable to injury due to a childhood illness, who now lives with significant back pain after a fall.

Often in injury cases, accidents can provoke symptoms in necks and backs where there was already some damage. People might have had a previous accident or medical condition, or their spine could already be showing the signs of aging. Whilst most people do not suffer from anything seriously wrong with their spines at least until old age, the ‘degeneration’ happens to most people and starts at quite a young age without any symptoms.

Accident victims are sometimes surprised to discover that after they have an accident, x-rays or scans show that there was already long standing damage and the accident has only aggravated it, meaning they suffer from pain from which they would have suffered anyway, only a lot sooner. However, simply having some signs of degeneration on an x-ray or scan does not mean someone was bound to suffer pain, it may be that the accident is the only cause of the symptoms.

In the more serious cases, doctors often take the approach of trying the most conservative treatments first. Physiotherapy and painkillers may be tried, followed by things such as injections, and in some cases (although quite rarely), surgery. However, sometimes there is simply no one single thing that works, and all that can be done is to manage the symptoms to avoid provoking them, allowing the injured person to live with their injuries as best they can. Pain clinics are often used to bring together several different elements of treatment, including medication, physical therapy, psychological treatment and advice, allowing people to find out how to control their symptoms.

So far as any legal compensation claim is concerned, the injured person’s solicitor will arrange reports from medical experts to get to the bottom of what the injury is, allowing the best possible treatment to be identified. Claims can be made for money to pay for treatment to be done privately, often while the claim is progressing, with the aim being to allow the maximum possible physical recovery to be achieved. For those with long term chronic pain, compensation money can allow them to pay for the treatment and support they need.

If you would like further help or advice concerning a possible compensation claim for back or neck injuries caused by an accident please contact our Personal Injury team on 01733 882800 or email


Richard Moon, Senior Solicitor

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.