How Spinal Nerves Impact Your Reflexes

Category: Nerves | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 25, 2015


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When most people hear the word reflexes, they picture a doctor smacking their knees with a rubber mallet during a physical checkup. In reality, we use our reflexes all day, every day – often without even realizing it. They are essential to our ability to function on a daily basis. When our reflexes are impeded, it can cause a lot of problems. In this article, we will talk about how reflexes work and how they can be negatively affected by the nerves in the spine.

What are Reflexes? 

Reflexes are automatic, involuntary movements that our body makes to keep us balanced, healthy, and safe. Blinking, sneezing, coughing, and the famous knee tendon tap that your doctor gives you during a physical are all examples of common reflexes. There are many more examples that you probably don’t notice on a daily basis. For example, when you stand up, the muscles surrounding your spinal cord are constantly making small adjustments to help your body maintain balance. 

Nerve Damage & Reflexes 

Reflexes are, by and large, controlled by the nervous system. When you accidentally pick up a pot on the stove that’s too hot, the pain receptors in your hand send a signal to your brain, and your brain sends a signal back that makes you drop the hot pot. This is all done in a fraction of a second and without your direct control – hence, a reflex.

When nerves are injured or damaged, our bodily reflexes can decrease, or altogether disappear. Since our reflexes protect us and are essential to function, this is not a good thing. Here are a few warning signs that your reflexes may be weakened due to nerve complications:

  • Loss of feeling in any body part.
  • Pain that gets worse over time.
  • Weakness in a body part.

If you notice any issues with your reflexes, make an appointment with your physician right away to determine the cause of the problem. Nerve conditions and injuries need to be diagnosed and treated quickly to avoid permanent damage.

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