Spinal Anatomy

The Spinal Cord is connected to the brain and is about the diameter of a human finger. From the brain the spinal cord descends down the middle of the back and is surrounded and protected by the bony vertebral column. The spinal cord is surrounded by a clear fluid called Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF), that acts as a cushion to protect the delicate nerve tissues against damage from banging against the inside of the vertebrae. The anatomy of the spinal cord itself, consists of millions of nerve fibres which transmit electrical information to and from the limbs, trunk and organs of the body, back to and from the brain. The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the Central Nervous System, whilst the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the body are referred to as the Peripheral Nervous System. The nerves within the spinal cord are grouped together in different bundles called Ascending and Descending tracts. Ascending tracts within the spinal cord carry information from the body, upwards to the brain, such as touch, skin temperature, pain and joint position. Descending tracts within the spinal cord carry information from the brain downwards to initiate movement and control body functions. Nerves called the spinal nerves or nerve roots come off the spinal cord and pass out through a hole in each of the vertebrae called the Foramen to carry the information from the spinal cord to the rest of the body, and from the body back up to the brain.