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Importance Of The Spinal Cord And Its Vital Functions

Importance Of The Spinal Cord And Its Vital Functions

What Is The Spinal Cord?

It is important to delve into an analysis of the spinal cord before we discuss the amazing functions it performs in our body.
The Spinal Cord is an often-forgotten or underestimated part of the human body in comparison to the other major organs like the heart, kidney, liver or brain.

The spinal cord is a bundle of 31 important nerves that are collectively encased within the vertebral canal that comprises 33 bones. This fascinating piece of artistry is connected to the brain at the base of your neck and runs all the way to your lower back. It is responsible for the sensory, motor and automatic signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

Vector image of a person worrying about chronic spinal pain

Understanding the structure of the spinal cord

There are three important components that constitute the entire spinal cord:

  • The white matter
  • The grey matter
  • The spinal nerves
The White Matter
  • The white matter is made of nerve fibres called axons which traverse the entire length of the spinal cord.
  • The ascending bundles of axons carry signals from the body to the brain.
  • The descending tracts of axons carry signals from the brain to the rest of the body.
  • The white matter covers the grey matter and is entirely responsible for the motor functions, response to external stimuli and sensory capabilities.
  • Each half of the grey matter has a dorsal horn, ventral horn, and a lateral horn.
  • It comprises neuronal cell bodies, dendrites, axon terminals and nerve synapses.
  • The grey matter is responsible for the skeletal muscle functions and motor functions.

There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves that are distributed in a systematic way.

  • 8 cervical nerves located in the neck referred to as C1 -C8.
  • 12 thoracic nerves located in the chest numbered T1-T12.
  • 5 lumbar nerves in the abdomen numbered L1-L5.
  • 5 sacral nerves located in the pelvis.
  • 1 coccygeal nerve located in the tailbone.

What Does The Spinal Cord Do?

Parts of spinal cord - Diagrammic Explanation

The spinal cord and the brain together constitute the Central Nervous System. It is an incredibly complex and intricate mesh of nerves. Functioning as the body’s main relay station, the CNS is responsible for all the basic functions of the body, such as breathing, walking, talking, movement, and reflexes.
It would be almost impossible to survive without the CNS-that is how vital it is to the body. That explains why a damaged CNS cripples all the basic body functions even if the person is alive.

Reflex Actions


The spinal cord controls all the reflex actions that are done involuntarily and rapidly. The spinal cord controls all voluntary reflexes as well.

  • Autonomic reflexes: This refers to bodily functions such as digestion, blood pressure, breathing, etc.
  • Involuntary reflexes: Blinking, dilation of the pupils, knee-jerk reflex, pulling your hand away from a hot or sharp object are all involuntary reflexes.
  • Reflex arc: A reflex arc is a signal that is initiated by receptors that send signals along the sensory neuron to the spinal cord. The spinal cord, in turn, passes the signal to the motor neuron which stimulates the muscles or glands in a particular spot. Hence, not all reflexes travel to the brain. It is the spinal cord that cuts short that journey and facilitates the reflex arc for an immediate response.

Processing Center Of The Body

The spinal cord is essentially the information processing center of your body. The electrical currents traversing up and down the spinal cord allow the body to connect and communicate with the brain.
The spinal cord carries messages to the brain that allow you to recognize and process information like:

  • Your surroundings
  • Your response to the surroundings ( for example-reacting to cold or hot weather)

The other processing functions of the spinal cord include

  • Regulating the heart rate.
  • Regulating breathing.
  • Maintaining constant internal body conditions or homeostasis.

Spinal Cord Rehabilitation In Chennai


In a city like Chennai, where there are many hospitals and doctors to deal with spinal cord injuries, HAMSA stands a cut above the rest as first-ever spinal cord rehabilitation center in Chennai. Services in HAMSA are on par with international standards and extend to include brain injury and stroke patients. Supervised by a deeply committed team of experts, HAMSA offers holistic, medical-based practices and comprehensive patient care to provide and promote a quick and complete recovery from spinal cord injuries.

Trust us to give you first-class rehabilitation and nurse your loved ones back to good health. Contact us for further details or visit our website.

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