Overview of spinal 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 nervous systems which affect the brain, spine and other areas of the body, like the arms and legs. Spinal 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 through the following article can help you better understand any 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 and 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 spinal 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.

Spinal nerve root pathways

Your spinal column is divided into three main sections, each affected by a dedicated number of spinal nerve roots. These include the following:

  • C1 to C7 — these cervical nerve roots are located in the neck and supply movement and sensory information to the diaphragm, arms, neck and upper torso
  • T1 to T12 — these thoracic nerve roots are located in the middle-back region and are responsible for sensation and movement in your chest, abdomen, inner arms and upper back
  • L1 to L5 — these lumbar nerve roots are located in the lower back and 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, numbness and weakness in the neck or back, as well as other affected areas of the body.

Finding relief with Laser Spine Institute

If you’re experiencing chronic neck or back pain from a pinched spinal nerve root and several weeks or months of conservative treatment has not been effective for pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^

Laser Spine Institute helps thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain each year, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Reach out to us today for more information about our minimally invasive procedures. We can provide a free MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate? for our minimally invasive spine surgery.