UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Nerves of the Back

Gross Anatomy


Nerves of the Back Region - Listed Alphabetically

Nerve Source Branches Motor Sensory Notes
accessory cranial root: medulla - nucleus ambiguus; spinal root: spinal nucleus of the upper cervical spinal cord no named branches GSE: sternocleidomastoid and trapezius mm. none also known as: CN XI, 11th cranial nerve; spinal root enters cranial cavity by passing through the foramen magnum; exits skull by passing through the jugular foramen; accessory n. is motor only; the subtrapezial plexus of nerves receives proprioceptive fibers: for the sternocleidomastoid m. from the ventral primary rami of spinal nn. C2 and C3 - for trapezius via ventral primary rami of C3 and C4
cluneal, inferior posterior femoral cutaneous n. no named branches none skin of the lower part of the buttock "clunis" is a Latin word meaning buttock
cluneal, middle lateral cutaneous branches of the dorsal primary rami of spinal nerves S1-3 no named branches none skin of the intermediate medial portion of the buttock "clunis" is a Latin word meaning buttock
cluneal, superior lateral cutaneous branches of the dorsal primary rami of spinal nerves L1-3 no named branches none skin of the superomedial portion of the buttock "clunis" is a Latin word meaning buttock
coccygeal plexus ventral primary rami of spinal nerves S4, S5, C1 anococcygeal n. none skin of the region overlying the coccyx only part of the S4 ventral primary ramus is contributed to the coccygeal plexus
dorsal primary ramus first branch off of the dorsal side of the spinal nerve numerous to the deep back mm.; sympathetic innervation to the skin general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) to the skin of the back a mixed nerve containing both motor and sensory fibers
dorsal root from the dorsal horn of the spinal cord to the spinal nerve none none general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) dorsal root is entirely sensory in function; it is located dorsal to the denticulate ligament
dorsal root ganglion dorsal rootlets dorsal rootlets none one dermatome a sensory ganglion; located in the intervertebral foramen of the vertebral column on the dorsal root - one per spinal nerve; location of the cell bodies of somatic afferent (sensory) neurons
dorsal scapular n. brachial plexus (br. of C5 ventral primary ramus) no named branches rhomboideus major and minor mm.; levator scapulae m. none dorsal scapular n. passes through the scalenus medius m.
intercostal n. ventral primary rami of spinal nerves T1-T11 lateral & anterior cutaneous brs. intercostal muscles; abdominal wall muscles (via T7-T11); muscles of the forearm and hand (via T1) skin of the chest and abdomen anterolaterally; skin of the medial side of the upper limb (via T1-T2) intercostal n.travels below the posterior intercostal a. in the costal groove
occipital, greater dorsal primary ramus of spinal nerve C2 (medial br.) no named branches posterior neck muscles skin of the posterior surface of the scalp muscles innervated by this nerve develop from epimeres in the embryo
occipital, lesser ventral primary ramus of spinal nerve C2 no named branches none skin behind the ear lesser occipital n. arises from the cervical plexus
occipitalis tertius dorsal primary ramus of spinal nerve C3 (medial br.) no named branches posterior neck muscles skin of the posterior surface of the neck muscles innervated by this nerve develop from epimeres in the embryo
ramus, dorsal primary first branch off of the dorsal side of the spinal nerve numerous to the deep back mm.; sympathetic innervation to the skin general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) to the skin of the back a mixed nerve containing both motor and sensory fibers
ramus, ventral primary first branch off of the ventral side of the spinal nerve numerous to skeletal mm. of the neck, trunk and extremities; sympathetic innervation to the skin general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) to the skin of the trunk (except the back) and extremities; visceral pain via the white rami of the sympathetic nervous system (T1-L2) a mixed nerve containing both motor and sensory fibers
root, dorsal from the dorsal horn of the spinal cord to the spinal nerve none none general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) dorsal root is entirely sensory in function; it is located dorsal to the denticulate ligament
root, ventral from the ventral horn of the spinal cord to the spinal nerve none to skeletal mm.; preganglionic sympathetic (T1-L2) none entirely motor in function; located ventral to the denticulate ligament; at all spinal core levels it contains GSE for skeletal mm.; at levels T1-L2 it contains GVE (preganglionic sympathetic) for blood vessels, sweat glands, thoracic viscera, abdominal viscera, pelvic viscera
spinal n. formed at the point where the dorsal and ventral rootlets meet; it ends where the dorsal and ventral primary rami diverge dorsal primary ramus; ventral primary ramus to skeletal mm.; some levels carry preganglionic sympathetic axons (T1-L2) general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) from the entire surface of the neck, trunk and extremities; visceral pain (via the white ramus communicans and the sympathetic nervous system) located at the intervertebral foramen; there are 31 pairs of spinal nerves - 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, 1 coccygeal
ventral primary ramus first branch off of the ventral side of the spinal nerve numerous to skeletal mm. of the neck, trunk and extremities; sympathetic innervation to the skin general sense (touch, pressure, pain, heat, cold, etc.) to the skin of the trunk (except the back) and extremities; visceral pain via the white rami of the sympathetic nervous system (T1-L2) a mixed nerve containing both motor and sensory fibers
ventral root from the ventral horn of the spinal cord to the spinal nerve none to skeletal mm.; preganglionic sympathetic (T1-L2) none entirely motor in function; located ventral to the denticulate ligament; at all spinal core levels it contains GSE for skeletal mm.; at levels T1-L2 it contains GVE (preganglionic sympathetic) for blood vessels, sweat glands, thoracic viscera, abdominal viscera, pelvic viscera


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.




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