What are the Nerves in the Back?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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The nerves in the back are found in the spinal column and are divided into regions according to their location in the back. There are a total of 31 pairs of spinal nerves that work to provide sensory and motor functions to various parts of the body. These nerves are divided into regions that include the cervical, thoracic, and coccyx regions. Each pair of nerves works to assist in the control of various motor and sensory functions throughout the body.

The cervical nerves in the back are found in the upper portion of the spine. There are eight pairs of cervical nerves, each pair having specific roles. The first two pairs of cervical nerves are responsible for controlling the movements of the head. The next two pairs of nerves control the diaphragm, assisting in the breathing process. The remainder of the cervical nerves in the back help to control muscles in the arms and hands.

There are 12 pairs of thoracic nerves in the back. The first pair of nerves supplies the upper back and the arms. The next five pairs of thoracic nerves provide the nerve supply to some of the chest muscles as well as the skin of the upper back and chest. The next five pairs of thoracic nerves in the back supply the lower back and some of the muscles of the abdomen. The last pair of thoracic nerves supplies the skin and the gluteus muscles of the buttocks.


The lumbar portion of the spine contains five pairs of nerves. These nerves supply the lower extremities, such as the feet and ankles. These nerves in the back also provide the nerve supply for some of the organs located in the abdomen, including the bladder, reproductive organs, and the large intestine. The sacral portion of the spine also includes five pairs of nerves. These nerves actually begin in the lumbar region of the spine and work with the lumbar nerves to supply the abdominal organs and lower extremities.

The final pair of spinal nerves in the back is found in the coccyx, also known as the tailbone. The nerve, known as the coccygeal nerve, assists the lumbar and sacral nerves in controlling the lower half of the body. All of the spinal nerves work closely with each other. Therefore, any injury to this area of the body has the potential to interrupt normal functioning in any part of the body.


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