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The spine (spinal column) contains the spinal cord, which is divided into four sections:

  • Cervical (Neck)
  • Thoracic (Chest)
  • Lumbar (Lower Back) and
  • Sacral (Pelvis).

The vertebrae in each section of the spine are numbered beginning at the top. For example, the first vertebra in the cervical spine is labeled C1, the second in the cervical spine is C2, the second in the thoracic spine is T2, the fourth in the lumbar spine is L4, and so forth. These labels are also used to identify specific locations (called levels) in the spinal cord.

Nerves run from a specific level of the spinal cord to a specific area of the body. By noting where a person has weakness, paralysis, sensory loss, or other loss of function, a neurologist can determine where the spinal cord is damaged.


  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty in coughing, breathing or clearing secretions through the lungs
  • Exaggerated reflex spasms or activities
  • Loss of movement
  • Intense stinging or pain caused by damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
  • Loss of sensation that include the ability to feel cold, heat and touch
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual fertility and sensitivity

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