Anyone over the age of 40 will have a spine that is not brand new. Most likely, there will be some mild degeneration which is natural and part of the aging process. Mild degeneration does not mean pain, pain can exist with our without degeneration. Pain is typically caused by the location and severity of disc abnormalities or facet joint problems. The causes of these problems can lead to big disputes in automobile accident cases.
I have seen plenty of cases where the plaintiff has not had back pain in his life, gets in a wreck and then has back pain for the rest of his life. When he had a xray or MRI, it shows degeneration but no true disc herniation or impingement of nerve roots. Therefore, it is tough to determine first the cause of the problem and pain. Of course, it was the wreck. However, with a diagnostic showing degeneration, the insurance companies will typically try and reduce the amount offered on the case. They will argue that the source of your problems are pre-existing conditions, and that they are not responsible.
Turn this around on the insurance companies, as having some mild degeneration is normal but it does possibly make you more susceptible to injuries. If you had a young and flexible spine, you may not have been hurt in the wreck. The mild degeneration actually helps explain how you were injured. Also, many people have degeneration and no pain. So, degeneration is frequently irrelevant. What really matters is pain, and what caused it. Have your attorney and physicians focus on what more likely than not cause the pain, and you will be better off.