Nerve roots in the spine

The nerve roots in the spine play a vital role in carrying sensory information from your body to your brain, while transmitting motor impulses from your brain to your body. They’re the first messengers in the complex network that makes up your peripheral nervous system.

How spinal nerve roots function

Let’s take a look at specific nerve roots and from which parts of the body they send and receive sensory and motor information. Think about the location of the various regions of the body that correspond to each nerve root so that you can gain a better understanding of how the spinal nerve roots function:

  • C7 – relays information to and from your middle finger
  • T6 – relays information to and from lower part of your sternum, or breastbone
  • T10 – relays information to and from your stomach
  • T12 – relays information to and from your lower stomach
  • L1 to L5 – relays information to and from your legs
  • S3 to S5 – relays information to and from the perineum, or genitals

Roots form pairs throughout the entire length of the spinal column, for a total of 31 levels of nerve roots in the spine.

Due to spinal disorders, spine injuries, spinal tumors, birth defects or the normal aging process, nerve root structures may become the source of pain in any part of your body if spinal tissues compress or pinch the nerve. This compression can happen after years of wear and tear on our spinal discs that are meant to cushion the vertebrae and nerves. Tingling, numbness, pain and weakness are all signs of nerve compression which can disrupt your quality of life if you do not seek treatment.

Nerve root compression treatment

If you are experiencing compression of nerve roots in the spine, first talk to your physician about managing the pain. He or she may suggest conservative treatment options, such as pain medication, steroid injections or massage. However, these therapies may not prove effective for every individual.

If your spine pain becomes chronic — meaning that it lasts for three or more months despite treatment — contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive spine surgery, which holds many advantages compared to traditional open spine surgery. We offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures designed to treat the root causes of your pain.

For example, we offer a minimally invasive discectomy. In this decompression procedure, our surgeons remove the portion of a herniated or bulging disc that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Our skilled surgeons use X-ray monitoring and fiber-optic devices in order to see precisely what is compressing the nerve and to remove it without causing any destabilization of the spine.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost* MRI review to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.