About the Peripheral Nervous System

The nervous system is the path the brain uses to send and receive information about what is happening in the body and around it. It is made up of billions of nerve cells, called neurons, which join together to make nerves. The nervous system has two parts: the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system carries messages to and from the central nervous system to the body’s limbs and organs.

The peripheral nervous system is subdivided into the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.

  • Nerves in the somatic nervous system control voluntary movement and activity, transmitting information between the central nervous system and the skeletal muscles and external sensory organs.
  • Nerves in the autonomic nervous system regulate involuntary movement, transmitting information between the central nervous system and the smooth muscles of the body’s internal organs and the cardiac muscle of the heart.

Disorders of the peripheral nervous system distort or interrupt messages traveling between the brain and the rest of the body. These disorders can be the result of an injury, or patients can be born with them. Fortunately, many of these disorders can be treated by addressing the underlying problem and/or by relieving pain and other symptoms.