4 Functions of the Spinal Cord (and 6 Symptoms of Potential Problems)

4 Functions of the Spinal Cord (and 6 Symptoms of Potential Problems)
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The brain and spinal cord make up the body’s central nervous system. While the brain is the control system, the spine is the branch that controls the rest of your body. If the spinal cord is injured, you could suffer from serious problems, ranging from pain to partial or full paralysis.

What Does the Spinal Cord Do?

The spinal cord is a complex network of nerves that connects your brain to the rest of your body. It is responsible for relaying signals between your brain and muscles so that you can move and feel. The spinal cord has many different functions that keep your body functioning optimally.

4 Specific Functions of the Spinal Cord

Here are the 4 specific functions of the spinal cord:

1.   Communication

The spinal cord is responsible for the communication of electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body. It’s your body’s control system.

2.   Movement

The spinal cord controls your ability to move as it enables your body to process commands from your brain. This includes the coordination of limbs and the ability to perform fine motor skills. These are also called “voluntary muscle movements.”

3.   Sensation

The spinal cord transmits sensory information from your peripheral nerves to your brain. This includes sending signals for touch, pain, and temperature.

4.   Automatic Responses

The spinal cord facilitates reflexive responses that happen without conscious effort. These include the withdrawal reflex of your hand from a hot surface. The spine also regulates digestion, urination, heart rate, and blood pressure.

The spinal cord plays an essential role in your body’s functioning, so it’s important to protect it.

Always wear your seat belt when riding in a car, practice proper lifting techniques, and take care to avoid any injuries that can damage your spinal cord. Taking care of your spine can ensure that it will keep working properly and continue to serve its essential functions as needed.

If you’ve injured your spinal cord due to someone else’s negligence, contact a local spinal cord injury lawyer right away. They can help you maximize the compensation you could receive.

6 Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury

Understanding the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury can help you get prompt medical attention and prevent further harm.

Here are 6 common symptoms of an injured spinal cord.

1. Loss of Sensation

One symptom of an injured spinal cord is loss of sensation, particularly in the legs, feet, or hands. You may feel a tingling, numbness, or pins and needles sensation in the affected area. You may also experience a lack of strength or coordination for an extended period of time.

2. Muscular Weakness

Another symptom of a possible spinal cord injury is muscular weakness. You may notice a decreased range of motion or have difficulty standing or walking. You may also feel as if your muscles have become weak and floppy, making strength training or walking difficult.

3. Minor to Intense Pain

Pain is a common symptom of a spinal cord injury. You may experience constant or intermittent pain, and it can vary from mild to severe. Pain also can be accompanied by aching or burning sensations or sudden and sharp impacts. This is usually caused by prolonged nerve damage.

4. Unusual Posture

An injury to your spinal cord may also cause changes in your posture and balance. You may find yourself leaning or bending in an unusual way due to the changes in your muscles. You may find it difficult to stand upright. Prolonged slouching can also cause chronic back pain.

5. Mental or Cognitive Symptoms

Injuries to the spinal cord can also lead to mental or cognitive problems. You may have difficulty with thinking, reasoning, or memory. You may also experience mood swings or depression. As the brain and spinal cord are linked, the brain could be damaged after a spinal cord injury.

6. Unexpected Urinary or Bowel Issues

Sometimes, a spinal cord injury can cause unexpected changes to the urinary or bowel systems. You may notice a sudden urge to urinate or bowel movements that cause discomfort. You may also have difficulty controlling the urge to urinate or go to the bathroom.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. The early detection of an injured spinal cord can help prevent further damage.


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Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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