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Neck and Back Injuries
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Spinal Cord Injuries
The most serious risk with any injury to the neck or back is that it will result in damage the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a collection of nerves which originate near the base of the brain and travel down the back. These nerves allow the brain to control the rest of the body, including the muscles and organs. The nerves which exit from the top of the spinal cord control the arms while the nerves which exit the lower portion of the spinal cord control the legs. The spinal cord runs through the spinal canal which is protected on all sides by the bones of the vertebrae.
The spinal cord itself is made up of four regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. The cervical nerves are associated with the back of the head, the neck and shoulders, the arms and hands, and the diaphragm. The thoracic nerves are associated with the chest, some back muscles, and parts of the abdomen. The lumbar nerves are associated with the lower parts of the abdomen and back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs, and parts of the legs. The sacral nerves are associated with the thighs, the lower parts of the legs, the feet, most of the external organs, and the anus area.
Damage at any level of the spinal cord will impact the areas below it. In most cases, the further up the spinal cord the injury happens, the more severe the injury will be.
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