Parasympathetic nervous system

The parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system are the two subsystems that make up the autonomic nervous system. These systems control the reflexive, involuntary actions of your body, such as pupil dilation, heart rate, digestion, saliva production, blood vessel size, sweating and other automatic functions of your body’s organs.

Role of the parasympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work together so the body can properly respond to everyday scenarios. While the sympathetic nervous system is devoted to quick response stress signals — such as responding to life or death situations — the parasympathetic nervous system deals with less immediate situations, such as digestion and eye tearing. Here are a couple tips to remember the difference between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Parasympathetic — controls “rest and digest” functions when situations are normal and calm
  • Sympathetic — controls the “fight or flight” response during more stressful situations

The parasympathetic nervous system is located in both the brain and sacrum — specifically the S2, S3 and S4 vertebrae — at the end of the spine. Problems with the parasympathetic nervous system are serious and can result in the following symptoms:

  • Digestive difficulty
  • Inability to breathe properly
  • Heightened or lowered blood pressure
  • Heart problems

Treatment for nerve-related conditions

Spinal conditions, such as foraminal stenosis, spinal stenosis, bulging or herniated discs and spinal arthritis, can affect the nervous system. Once the diagnosis of a spinal condition is made, a physician will usually recommend conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care or anti-inflammatory medications to reduce strain on nerve tissue.

If conservative treatment options have not provided pain relief, and surgery becomes an option, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open spine surgery and the disadvantages that come along with it, such as unnecessary muscle damage, hospitalization and long recovery period. Our surgeons can help you find lasting relief using minimally invasive outpatient procedures that use a less than 1-inch incision.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to find out if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine procedures.