Anatomy of Spinal Cord

By | July 2, 2017

The primary structure between the body and the brain is the spinal cord. The spinal cord ranges from the foramen magnum then is continuous with the medulla to the first or second lumbar vertebrae. The spinal cord in length is about 40 to 50 cm and is 1-1.5 cm in diameter. The spinal cord consists of two consecutive nerve roots that emerge from it each side. These nerves join to form 31 pairs of spinal nerves.

The spinal cord is a cylindrical in structure and is made up of grey and white matter, which are uniformly organized and divided into four parts namely;

  1.    Cervical,
  2.    Thoracic,
  3.    Lumbar,
  4.    Sacral.

The spinal nerves also consist of motor and sensory neurons to and from all the parts of the body.

What are some of the general features of the spinal cord?

  1.    The spinal cord consists of similar cross-sectional structures at all the spinal cord levels.
  2.    All the sensory information from the body and even some from the head are carried to the CNS via the spinal cord
  3.    The cord holds great clinical importance as it is the primary site of traumatic injury and the central point for many disease processes.
  4.    The descending axons of all neurons lie in the spinal cord that controls most of the visceral functions.

Although the spinal cord consists of only 2 percent of the central nervous system, its functions are vital. Having knowledge related to the spinal cord function makes it possible to find the location and diagnose the nature of the spinal cord diseases and damage.

What is the spinal cord function?

The spinal cord in simple words is the ‘information highway of the body’; messages are continuously being sent between the body and the central nervous system with the help of the spinal cord. The signals that are being transmitted include information related to touch, pain, temperature, joint, position and also signals that make the muscles move. It is due to the presence of our spinal cord that our body is capable of performing automatic action. A reflex action occurs when an emergency takes place, and the signals instead of going directly to the brain for processing are sent to the spinal cord. This decreases the time taken for a reaction, and thus less harm is done.

Our CNS is arranged in such a way that it allows the spinal cord to affect and control certain parts of the body. Primarily spinal cord function includes initiation of reflexes and transmission of information from sensory organs to the effecter’s muscles. In simple words, the spinal cord helps in connecting the different parts of the body to the brain.

What happened during a spinal cord injury?

In the case if a person’s spinal cord is damaged during an accident, the sections below the injury are cut off from the circuit of information and to from your brain. This means that all the nerves linked to the areas of spinal cord will no longer be connected to your brain and will stop functioning.

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