What is the Spinal Cord?

Every person in the world has a spinal cord, yet few people know its true purpose or capabilities. It is a critical part of the human anatomy, from contributing to bodily movements, to allowing you to experience the world through your nervous system. However, a damaged or severed spinal cord can upend a person’s life in ways they were not expecting.

Fortunately, you do not need to be a medical professional to educate yourself on the essential functions of the spinal cord. By learning more about your spine and how it works in tandem with the rest of your body, you can engage in safer lifestyle practices that reduce the risk of serious injury.

Functions of the Spinal Cord

The only way the body can communicate with the brain is through the spinal cord, which runs down the back and is encased in the vertebrae. It is a grayish-white substance, fibrous, and is about half an inch in diameter on average. The spinal cord runs from the brain stem to below the tailbone area.

How Each Section of the Spinal Cord Works

Each section of the spinal cord controls a different part of the body. If any part of the spinal cord is damaged, then the functions and sensations below the point of damage will be affected, or even eliminated entirely. It is essential to understand how each section of the spinal cord works, so that a person can take proper measures to protect their neck and back. There are four main sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral.

Cervical: This section controls critical bodily functions like the diaphragm and upper body movements from the neck muscles, shoulders, biceps, and wrists.

Thoracic: Located in the upper back, this section controls the top eight vertebrae of the back and the body movements related to balance and sitting down.

Lumbar: Located in the lower back, this area has four vertebrae. This section controls the lower part of the back muscles and hips/upper thighs.

Sacral: Located at the bottom section of the spinal cord, this section controls movements related to the knees, legs, and sexual functions.

Important Spinal Cord Facts

There are a number of interesting facts related to the spinal cord. Many people did not learn the basics of the spinal cord in school and thus may not know when they are putting it in jeopardy. Here are a number of relevant pieces of information that everyone should know:

  • Once a person turns five, their spinal cord stops growing. When it is done growing, the spinal cord is between 16 and 20 inches long, with men’s being slightly longer than women’s.
  • There are 31 segments of vertebrae in the back, all of which help protect the spinal cord.
  • The spinal cord controls the ability to sweat.
  • Only humans and giraffes have seven vertebrae in their neck (most mammals have six vertebrae in their neck or less).

It is essential to understand as much as possible about the spinal cord. Once its uses and vulnerabilities are understood, a person can focus on preventing spinal cord injuries and how to keep it healthy.

Learn More About How Spinal Cord Injuries Occur

The spinal cord is essential to the full human experience, and you will want to make sure you keep it protected at all times. There are numerous ways an injury could occur that reduces or eliminates your neural capabilities. If you find yourself in this situation, call a Maryland lawyer immediately to learn how you could file suit for financial compensation.