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.