When an accident precedes the onset of back or neck pain, a broken bone (fracture) must be considered. The amount of force required to fracture the spine through the bone or soft tissue is quite high. Less force is required to fracture the spine of the very young (less than 8 years), those people with medical problems that decrease the strength of bone, and the very elderly. In youngsters, much of the bone is still cartilage and in the elderly, the bones have weakened from natural occurring bone density loss.