Spinal cord anatomy

Back view and top view of section of spine, showing discs, spinal cord, nerve roots, and vertebrae

The spinal cord is a soft bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the brain to the lower back. It runs through the spinal canal, which is protected by the bones of the spine (vertebrae). Messages between the brain and the nerve roots travel up and down the spinal cord. This makes it possible for the brain and body to communicate. The discs cushion the vertebrae and provide flexibility to the spine and spinal cord.

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