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Spinal Cord Anatomy

If you or someone you love has suffered from a spinal cord injury, you are probably interested in learning all you can about spinal cord anatomy. Learning about spinal cord anatomy can go far in helping you understand a spinal cord injury and its significance. The spinal cord carries all of the nerve pathways from the rest of the body to the brain. Depending on where a spinal cord injury occurs will determine the effects of the spinal cord injury. Likewise, knowing the severity and whether the injury is a complete or incomplete injury will also help you to understand what to expect from a spinal cord injury.

The key to understanding basic spinal cord anatomy is to know that the back itself has 33 bones. These bones are called vertebrae. Between your 33 vertebrae there are discs which are comprised of elastic, fibrous cartilage. These discs act as shocks. They cushion your vertebrae and they keep your spine flexible. There are also 40 muscles and connecting ligaments and tendons that are in the back. They run from the bottom of the skull to your tailbone. There are also 31 pairs of nerves in your back. The spinal column is divided up into three regions, the cervical spine, the thoracic spine and the lumbosacral spine.

Spinal cord anatomy consists of also learning the details of the cervical spine. The cervical spine is comprised of seven vertebrae. These vertebrae are what allow you to turn your head, bend, extend and flex. The bones in the cervical spine region are smaller
than the other vertebrae in your back.

The next area you should learn about in spinal cord anatomy is the details of the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is in the chest region. This area is comprised of 12 vertebrae. It should be noted that the canal the spinal cord runs through in the thoracic spine is smaller in this region that in the other regions – the cervical spine or the lumbosacral spine. This puts the spinal cord at increased risk of damage if an injury is damage is done to the vertebrae of the thoracic spine.

The lumbosacral spine is the next region that is generally studied in a basic spinal cord anatomy class. This region is comprised of five vertebrae and they allow you to bend forward, sideways and backwards.

The next thing that you should know about spinal cord anatomy is just like the spinal column is divided up into regions, so too is the spinal cord. The spinal cord is divided up into segments. Within each segment there are different levels. Each level is attributed to different functions of the human body. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury you will probably be shown a diagram of the spinal cord regions and levels. Your doctor will show you which region in your spinal cord has been damaged and what the likely effects of it will be.

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