The Spinal Cord is a long, thin bundle of nervous tissue and support cells connected to the brain and located along your back and neck
The spinal cord receives and transmits electric signals throughout the entire body and then back to the brain
The spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae, which are bones running down your back, and also by cerebral spinal fluid, which helps to cushion the nerve tissue
The spinal column is divided into four areas: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral
Each section contains nerves that control certain muscles of your body
Each nerve has its corresponding vertebrate, with the exception of C8 which is located between the C7 and the T1 vertebrates
The cervical section of the spinal cord is located in the neck
The cervical nerves control the motion and senses in the neck
There are 7 vertebrae protecting the cervical nerves, and 8 Cervical nerves. (C8 does not have its own corresponding vertebrate)
The thoracic nerves are the spinal nerves emerging from the thoracic vertebrae
There are 12 Thoracic nerves and 12 Thoracic vertebrae.
They run between the ribs and down your back.
Thoracic Nerves (nerves in the upper back) supply the trunk and abdomen. They control most of your torso.
The lumbar vertebrae, L1-L5, carry the most amount of body weight and are subject to the largest forces and stresses along the spine.
The Spinal Cord ends at the L1-L2 area, though there are still nerves in the Lumbar area.
These nerves control most of the lower body function, such as your hips, thighs, legs and feet.
There are 5 sacral vertebral bones, represented by symbols S1-S5
situated between the lumbar vertebrae and the coccyx (the lowest bone in the vertebral column).
Control your bodily functions: bladder, sexual organs, bowels, etc.
Common Causes of Spinal Damage
Spinal Cord Injury
There are two types of Spinal Cord Injuries: Complete and Incomplete
Complete injuries- complete loss of sensation and motor functions at and below the point of injury. I.E. the spinal cord is severed at that point, or has undergone intense trauma
Incomplete injuries- partial damage to spinal cord, meaning there is only partial loss of sensation and motor function at the point of injury; portions below may or may not be affected
Cervical Nerve Injuries
The cervical nerves are labeled C1-C8.
C1-C3 nerve injuries will result in loss of involuntary functions -such as breathing, which would require use of ventilators and breathing aids
C4 nerve injury results in significant loss of function at the biceps and shoulders
C5 nerve injury results in potential loss of function in the shoulders and biceps, and some loss of function in the wrists
Cervical Nerve Injuries Cont’d
An injury in the C6-C8 vertebrates results in loss of function in the wrists, hands, and fingers. People with injuries at this level may be able to exercise their triceps, wrists and wriggle their fingers, but will have severe dexterity loss.
A severe injury in any of the Cervical nerves may result in quadriplegia, where you lose all or partial function of all four limbs.
Thoracic Nerves Injuries
T1 nerve injury will cause loss of control of the hands, (because this nerve is so close to the C8 & C7 nerves)
T1-T8 nerve injuries will cause loss of function in abdominal muscles, such as the intercostals.
T8-T12 nerve injury will cause loss of function in torso area.
Injuries in Thoracic section of the spinal cord could possibly result in full or complete paraplegia , or loss of the function of legs
Lumbar Nerves Injuries
L1 nerve injury would result in loss of function in your Quadratus lumborum , or lower back muscles.
L2-L5 nerve injuries would result in loss of function in your lower back, glueteus maximus (your butt), and legs. This may cause possible paraplegia.
Sacral Nerves Injuries
Injuries to the Sacral nerves may involve loss of bladder functioning, ultimately requiring use of a catheter
Common Diseases and Problems
Central Pain Syndrome
Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome
Also known as “cleft spine” or “open spine”
Most common disabling birth defect in U.S.
Neural tube defect , meaning problem with spinal cord or covering
occurs when fetal spinal column does not close during first month of pregnancy; leaves infant’s spine protruding from back
Usually causes nerve damage; ultimately paralysis in legs
Often leads to: bowel or urinary problems, hydrocephalus (excess fluid in skull), or learning difficulties
Central Pain Syndrome
A neurological condition caused by damage to or dysfunction of the central nervous system, and can be caused by stroke, tumors, epilepsy, or a separate and previously contracted disease.
May affect a large portion of the body or a small region.
Pain is typically constant, and differs in intensity.
Loss of touch sensations may result.
Pain medication, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants are the only treatment.
Not fatal, but very disabling.
Causes sideways curve in spine
S or C shaped curves
Most common in young adults, particularly females, following growth spurts of adolescence
Can be temporary or birth defec t
Only severe cases require assista nce in the form of a back brace
Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome
a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limit the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column and cause abnormal stretching.
results from improper growth of the neural tube (closely related to spina bifida)
symptoms may include lesions, hairy patches, dimples, or fatty tumors on the lower back; foot and spinal deformities; weakness in the legs; low back pain; scoliosis; and incontinence.
May go undiagnosed until adulthood.
As treatment, surgery is recommended to prevent further neurological deterioration.
If surgery is not advisable, spinal cord nerve roots may be cut to relieve pain.
Enters intestine, multiplies, spreads to nervous system
Mainly affects young children
Preventable by immunization
Viral or bacterial infection causing inflammation of membranes covering spinal cord (or brain)
viral usually clears without treatment; bacterial is severe and may cause brain damage
Some forms are contagious; there are highly effective vaccines available to prevent bacterial
can be spread through respiratory/throat secretions (coughing, kissing, sneezing); not as easily spread as cold or flu
a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system
Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision
Causation is unknown, but possible reasons include:
more common in females, Caucasians, and those aged between 20-50 years old
treatment is primarily based off symptom management
a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of a segment of the spinal cord.
The segment of the spinal cord at which the damage occurs determines which parts of the body are affected.
No effective cure currently exists.
spontaneous recovery is possible
About 1/3 of patients show good or full recovery
Also known as “hunchback”
Four main types:
Commonly treated with orthosis by use of body braces, particularly Milwaukee brace
Types of Kyphosis
Postural - usually attributed to slouching (bad postur e). Can be corrected in young; in old, also known as hyperkyphosis
Scheuermann’s - found predominately in teenagers; painful; worse deformities than postural. Posture cannot be willfully corrected. Vertebrae and disks appear irregular
Congenital - most commonly results from incorrect fetal spine development. Vertebrae malformed or fused together. Leads to other types of kyphosis later in life
Nutritional - from nutritional deficiencies, especially of Vitamin D which softens bones, causing curvature under child’s weight