The spinal cord transmits information from the brain to all organs and, in turn, receives the signals that the rest of the body sends to the brain . It is a structure that concerns the central nervous system and that connects the brain with the rest of the organism, and which is innervated by the spinal nerves .
What is the spinal cord?
The spinal cord is approximately 40 – 50 cm long , and measures approximately 1 – 1.5 cm in width . It starts from the occipital hole, i.e. an opening located at the base of the skull , and also known as the foramen magnum , to reach the first or second lumbar vertebra. It is a bundle of nerve fibers located along the entire spine, which connect the organism to the brain, and which are composed of an external white matter.
The external white matter is formed by the extensions of the neurons , and by an internal gray substance which includes the bodies of the neurons. It is divided into four areas (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral) each of which is composed of several segments, from which a total of 31 pairs of spinal nerves depart, each consisting of motor nerve fibers and sensory nerve fibers.
Starting from the second lumbar vertebra, the spinal cord is divided into various groups of fibers which form the nerves directed towards the lower part of the organism. This set of nerves still passes for a stretch inside the vertebral column taking the name of cauda equina , and then moving away from it by means of a neural foramen.
The dura mater covers the spinal cord , forming a protective bag, which is internally sprayed with cerebrospinal fluid .
What is the spinal cord used for?
The spinal cord represents the structure capable of connecting the brain with the rest of the organism and is part of the central nervous system . The nerves that originate from the spinal cord, flowing from small openings located between the vertebrae (the so-called foramina), bind to certain parts of the organism. Damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis of some areas of the body and not others, exactly for this reason.
The nerves of the spinal cord also carry electrical signals from the periphery of the body to the brain. The nerves of the spinal area are oriented towards the upper part of the chest and arms. Those in the thoracic area are distributed in the chest and abdomen. Those in the lumbar area are directed towards the intestine, bladder and legs. Taken together, these nerve fibers are able to coordinate and control all parts of the body , muscles and organs. In addition, they allow you to perceive different sensations, from pain to heat. Also the damage to the nerves may produce sensations (for example, pain, tingling or numbness) in the areas in which these flow.