The nerve fibers in your spinal cord branch off to form pairs of nerve roots that travel through the small openings between your vertebrae. The nerves in each area of the spinal cord connect to specific parts of your body. This is why damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis in certain areas and not others. It depends on which spinal nerves are affected. The nerves of the cervical spine go to the upper chest and arms. The nerves of the thoracic spine go to the chest and abdomen. The nerves of the lumbar spine reach to the legs, pelvis, bowel, and bladder. These nerves coordinate and control all the body’s organs and parts, and allow you to control your muscles.
The nerves carry electrical signals back to the brain that allow you to feel sensations. If your body is being hurt in some way, your nerves signal the brain. Damage to the nerves themselves can cause pain, tingling, or numbness in the area where the nerve travels. Without nerve signals, your body would not be able to function.