Spine nerve roots
The spine contains dozens of nerve roots located in the spinal canal and the spinal cord itself. These nerve roots help to transfer signals of movement and sensation throughout the central and peripheral nerve systems — the systems of nerves that affect the brain, spine and other areas of the body, like the arms and legs.
Spine nerve roots play an important role in the overall health of the spine and its ability to bend and move. Understanding how the nerve roots work and what causes nerve compression can help you to better understand any pain and symptoms you are experiencing from a spine condition.
Location of nerve roots in the spine
The spine is made of several small bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. Between each vertebra is a small, open space called a foraminal canal. It is through the foraminal canal on both sides of each vertebra that the nerve roots exit the spinal cord and travel to other areas of the body.
Additionally, there are several large nerve roots that live just outside the spinal cord in the spinal canal — the space that hosts the spine and central nervous system. Each spine nerve root connects with its own localized network of nerves, tendons, ligaments and other bodily tissues to send and receive information about a certain part of your body.
Nerve root pathways
Your spinal column is divided into three main sections, each affected by a dedicated number of spine nerve roots. These include the following:
- Cervical spine nerve roots: C1-C7 — Located in the neck, they supply movement and sensory information to the diaphragm, arms, neck and upper torso.
- Thoracic spine nerve roots: T1-T12 — Located in the upper back region, these nerve roots are responsible for sensation and movement in your chest, abdomen, inner arms and upper back.
- Lumbar spine nerve roots: L1-L5 — Located in the lower back, these roots supply sensation and movement to your lower back, legs and feet.
Certain spine conditions such as arthritis, spinal stenosis and a herniated disc may cause irritation or compression of the nerve roots. Spinal nerve compression can result in symptoms of pain, tingling and numbness in the neck or back, as well as other affected areas of the body.
If you’re experiencing chronic neck or back pain from a pinched spinal nerve root and several months of conservative treatment has not been effective for pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, helping more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain.