What is the Spinal Cord?

The majority of people are very much acquainted with the basic function of the spinal cord – how it serves as a relay, which transports signals from the brain to the rest of the nervous system. The pack of nerves is safeguarded by the spinal column. Most people complicate for the spinal cord itself as to how the two are discussed interchangeably.


When we talk about spinal cord injuries, what get references is the particular vertebra of the spinal column where the injury took place. The reason behind this is that the spinal column is segmented. It’s much simpler to determine injury locations through referencing the injured vertebrae.


The Structure of the Spinal Cord

In case you didn’t know yet, our spinal cord is housed in a cavity in the spine known as the spinal canal. That canal is inserted between the spinous process at the back and the intervertebral body disk of the spine at the front.


The spinal cord has its own protective myelin sheath. It serves as an insulation for nerves that boosts nerve efficacy. Thus, signals from our brain could transmit as quickly as possible. Some portions of our spinal cord are composed of white matter that is composed of nerve fibers. It borders an unclearly butterfly-shaped core of the grey matter.


The body of our vertebrate is the big, curved part of the bone in the front of our spine. Meanwhile, the intervertebral disk is the layer cartilage in the middle of every vertebral body. That offers the spine a measure of support and flexibility. The spinous process is the bottom of our spine, ending in a pointy tip.


Our vertebrate is divided and categorized into different regions: coccyx, sacrum, lumbar, thoracic and cervical. However, did you know that only the top twenty-four bones are moveable in our body? The vertebrae of the coccyx and sacrum are attached.

  • Coccyx.  This is a small piece of bone. It is made up of 4 fused vertebrae and the lowest end of the spinal column. It is called after the Greek term Kokkyx or cuckoo. The reason behind this is that ancient anatomist assumed it looked like a beak of a cuckoo. Its function is to offer a link for muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor.
  • Sacrum.  You will find sacrum under the lumbar vertebrae. It is a triangle-shaped bone connected to the hips on one or the other side. You will find 5 sacral vertebrae from S1 to S5 that are attached together. They create a ring known as the pelvic girdle along with the hipbones.
  • Lumbar Spine.  L1 to L5 are the most significant ones. Their function is to back up the thoracic and cervical spine. The lumbar area also penetrates most of the stress of carrying and lifting things. Thus, most spinal issues take place in the low back due to the weight our lumbar spine needs to bring.
  • Thoracic Spine.  T1 to T12 are attached to our ribs. We can feel where they connect to the thoracic vertebrae in our back when you follow the path of our ribs around from the sides or front of our back. Its function is to hold our rib cage that safeguards our lungs and heart.
  • Cervical Spine.  You will find 7 cervical vertebrae that begin with C1 and finish with C7. You see, C1 is also referred to as the “atlas.” It clasps the globe of our skull. Also known as the “axis,” C2 allows head turning and tilting. Our neck has the most massive range of motion. We can pivot and nod our heads because of C2 and C1.


The Impacts of Injuries at Various Levels of our Spinal Cord

Bear in mind that the impacts of one spinal cord injury could massively differ. It might depend on the region of the injury as well as its harshness. Take note that Spinal Cord Injury is normally distinguished as either of the following:

  • Complete Spinal Cord Injury.  With this type of injury, our spinal cord is totally severed. It gets rid of the function for nerves under the region of the injury. Nonetheless, you will find therapy regimens and treatments, which have aided survivors of this injury to recuperate some lost function.
  • Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury.  Here, our spinal cord is partially damaged or severed. That might enable an injured individual to recuperate some function of the nerve segments at or below the site of the injury.


Bear in mind that there are other vital components of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). This is the location of the injury with the spinal column. You see, the more function is likely gone when the nearer the area of the injury is to our head.


For instance, you got a damage of the spine at or beyond your C3 vertebra. That might lead in total paralysis to the point that you need a ventilator to breathe. Meanwhile, having a C5 wound might lead you to have some control over your biceps and shoulders.


Are you suffering from injuries in your upper thoracic area (T1 to T8)? If yes, then you might retain good control over your areas, but not your abdomen. Take note also that injuries in the T9 to T12 might enable you to have control over your abdomen.


Injuries in L1 to L5 might enable you some limited control over your legs and hips. Injuries took place in the sacral segment (S1 to S5) could influence control of the extremities in the legs and the groin.


Typical Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

Injury to our spinal cord can take place in different ways. That’s true even though the most typical reason is external trauma. Did you know that spinal cord injuries are more likely to impact more men than women? What’s more, most individuals who sustain this type of injury are between 16 and 30 years old because of the raised possibility of risky behaviors.


You will find different typical causes of spinal cord injuries in the U.S.

  • Diseases. Inflammation, arthritis, osteoporosis, and cancer of the spinal cord can cause injuries in the spinal cord.

  • Alcohol. The use of alcohol is a factor in nearly one out of four every spinal cord injuries.

  • Recreation and sports injuries. Athletic activities like diving in shallow waters and impact sports cause nearly ten percent of spinal cord injuries.

  • Acts of violence. More than thirteen percent of spinal cord injuries lead from violent encounters. The most typically involved is gunshot wounds. Wounds from knives are typical as well.

  • Falls. A spinal cord injury after sixty-five years old is often caused by fall. Thus, falls cause at least thirty-one percent of spinal cord injuries.

  • Motor vehicle accidents. Motorcycle and auto accidents are the major cause of spinal cord injuries. It accounts for nearly half of the new spinal cord injuries every year.


The majority of Americans these days with stable work or those people who attend school are on the roads regularly. With countless of individuals on the road each day, even if only a portion of a percent of them experience a spinal cord injury, the figure is still staggering compared to the overall quantity of football injuries wherein the activity is done less often and has fewer participants.


Any individuals who faced with significant trauma to his or her head should have an instant medical assessment for the potential of a spinal injury. It is safe to think that trauma victims have this injury until proved otherwise because paralysis or numbness might happen instantly or come on slowly as swelling and bleeding happens in or around our spinal cord. Further, the time between treatment and injury could be vital in identifying the severity and extent of complications.

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