Spinal Nerves

When You Want to Know MoreHere is more information about your nerves, spine and back:

The nervous system is divided into two systems. The Central Nervous System which is the brain and the spinal cord, and the Peripheral Nervous System which is the 12 cranial nerves, 31 pairs of spinal nerves and ganglia. The Peripheral Nervous System provides communication between the brain and spinal cord and the body’s muscles, glands and sensory receptors.

The spinal cord is the continuation of the brainstem, it lies protected within the vertebral column of the spine. A spinal nerve is any of the 31 pairs of nerves that arise from the spinal cord. The spinal nerves are named according to where it emerges and passes through the bones in the spinal vertebrae. As you can see in the image to the left, the nerve roots (in red) come off the spinal cord and out to the rest of the body between the vertebra. Most of the spinal nerves exit at the vertebrae that protects it, however, the C1 nerve exits above the C1 vertebra and the sacral and coccygeal nerves exit at these bones.

The 31 Pairs of Spinal Nerves

  • 8 cervical (C1-C8) nerves emerge from the cervical spine; cervical means of the neck (there are 8 cervical nerves, but only 7 cervical vertebra)
  • 12 thoracic (T1-T12) nerves emerge from the thoracic spine; thoracic means of the chest
  • 5 lumbar (L1-L5) nerves emerge from the lumbar spine; lumbar means from the lower back region
  • 5 sacral (S1-S5) nerves emerge from the sacral bone; sacral means of the sacrum, the bony plate at the base of the vertebral column
  • 1 coccygeal nerve emerge from the coccygeal bone; coccygeal means of the coccyx, the tailbone

Each spinal nerve is attached to the spinal cord by two roots: a dorsal (back, posterior) sensory root and a ventral (front, anterior) motor root . The fibers of the sensory root carry sensory impulses to the spinal cord—pain, temperature, touch and position sense (proprioception)—from tendons, joints and body surfaces. The motor roots carry impulses from the spinal cord.The nerves carry messages to and from the skin of specific body regions called dermatomes.

Dermatome Map of Upper Limb (Shoulder, Arm, and Hand)

Dermatomes of the right shoulder, arm and hand.

Nerve Plexus

The spinal nerves exit the spinal cord and pass through the intervertebral foramen, then divides into four branches, or networks, called plexuses.

  • Cervical Plexus – the cervical plexus supply the neck and shoulders
  • Brachial Plexus – the brachial plexus supplies the arm and upper back
  • Lumbar Plexus – lumbar plexus supplies the abdomen and leg muscles
  • Sacral Plexus – the sacral plexus provides nerves to the back of the thigh, most of the lower leg, the entire foot in part of the pelvis.

Relation of Spinal Nerves to Vertebrae

Relation of Spinal Nerves to Vertebrae


  1. Can a large disc bulge (C5-C6) and a moderate one (C6-C7) and pinching nerve cause your appetite to change? I had a bad viral infection back in August and was out sick for a week and a half. After that I didn’t want to eat the same foods anymore. So many things that I used to like to eat sound gross now, to include beer, which I loved the taste of before. I’m not sure how my disc became this way, I’ve had neck pain since Jun of 18, but when I was sick, I threw up so hard I’m not sure if that didn’t cause the disc to bulge. Either way, I’m not sure what caused my appetite to change. Any thoughts?

  2. Justin oliphant says:

    Middle aged male I have been through the ringer.4 years ago was diagnosed with palsy in left hand.Had a tendon swap surgery. After a year the left hand wouldn’t open. The so s months of P.T. nothing was going my way. Then was receiving steroid injections,,pinpiont, in shoulders Roto cuff. Nothing. The pain was.moderate and I was taking three oc5’s daily and gabapintin 3x daily and had mild relief.. After the 4th year I had a neck M.R.I and head. Bingo,,c4 compressed root,c6 comprresed root c7 t1 thecal sac compression,,c4and 5 severe right sided stenosis with uncomfortable spurring. Legs and arms and back of thumbs and forearms numb and annoyingly paiinful..taking xararto for a,fib,been in cardiac arrest and had a quad bypass. Fron the bypass I have a midline henia,subxizion that is approx. 5 centimeters. Both Roto cuffs are torn also..I was told I may need 6 surgeries but the heart doctor won’t give the green light.. So narcotics and nerve Rx’s and blood thinners are what I take.I am an electician so exercise just on the job requirements helps too. No pain no gain or brains ..Good luck to you all out there

  3. Cindy Schmidler says:

    Chest pain can be a serious symptom of a variety of illnesses, please see your primary care physician for a more accurate diagnosis.

  4. I have scoliosis at T 6 – T 7
    now i have developed Chest pain that is present every time and increased by movement and coughing
    Is this because of scoliosis

  5. I would just like the names of the cervical nerves, but I can’t find the answer ?¿?

  6. Jennifer davis says:

    Nerve blocks last for how long

  7. Shivam Vishwakarma BPT says:

    If you. Have any nearest physiotherapist .you go on there and take treatment according to the therepist

  8. Rana Muhammad Ali says:

    i m patient of T1W1, T2W2, L4 and L5-S1. accordingly to the MRI Lumbosacral Spinal shows these diagonisis. Doctor has advised me to strict bed rest for almost three months with medicines i.e. Methycobol Inj 1ampule after one day, caflm 50 tab 1+1, and Gablin 75mg 1+1. Kindly suggest any health implication if i could not recover from the said disease within stipulated time as stated above.

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