What Are Examples of Dermatomes
A dermatome is an area of skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. Problems in a dermatome can indicate problems with the corresponding nerve root

A dermatome is an area of skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. Problems in a specific dermatome can indicate problems with the corresponding nerve root in the spine.

Examples of dermatomes are as follows:

  • Numbness and tingling down the right arm to the thumb and middle finger may involve C6-C8 dermatomes and indicate abnormalities in the spinal nerves of the  C6-C8 nerve roots, whether in the vertebrae, spinal cord, or discs.
  • Sciatica pain that starts from the hip and travels down the back of the thigh to the knee may involve the S1 or S2 dermatomes and indicate a problem with the nerve that comes out below the first sacral spinal nerves.

Where are dermatomes located?

In order to understand dermatomes, it’s important to understand how spinal nerves function. Spinal nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)., whose main function is to connect the brain to the rest of the body so that the brain can evaluate sensory input.

The body has 31 pairs of spinal nerves that are named and grouped according to the corresponding area of the spine:

  • Cervical nerves (C1-C8): 8 pairs located in the neck
  • Thoracic nerves (T1-T2): 12 pairs located in the torso
  • Lumbar nerves (L1-L5): 5 pairs located in the lower back
  • Sacral nerve (S1-S5): 5 pairs located in the sacrum or pelvis
  • Coccygeal nerves: 1 pair located in the coccyx or tailbone

Except for C1, there are dermatomes for each spinal nerve, totaling 30. Dermatomes form a combination of horizontal layers in the upper body, giving an appearance of a stacked disc. In the legs, dermatomes run vertically due to the shape of the legs.

Table: Location of dermatomes according to spinal nerve group
Cervical spinal nerves Location of dermatomes
C2 Base of the skull behind the ear
C3 Back of the head and upper neck
C4 Lower neck and upper shoulders
C5 Upper shoulders and collarbones
C6 Thumb, index fingers, and upper forearm
C7 Middle finger, back of the arms, and upper back
C8 Little finger, ring fingers, inner arms, and upper back
Thoracic spinal nerves Location of dermatomes
T1 Upper chest, back, and inner forearm
T2 Upper inner arm
T3 Middle of the back (dorsal)
T4 Upper chest and back
T5 Bottom of the foot
T6 Chest/rib area
T7 Mid-chest and back
T8 Upper abdomen and mid-back
T9 Upper abdomen and mid-back
T10 Abdomen (belly button area) and mid-back
T11 Abdomen and mid-back
T12 Lower abdomen and mid-back
Lumbar spinal nerves Location of dermatomes
L1 Lower back, hips, and groin
L2 Lower back, front and inside of the thigh
L3 Lower back, front and inside of the thigh
L4 Lower back, front of thigh and calf, knee area, and inside of the ankle
L5 Lower back, front and outside of the calf, top and bottom of the foot, and first 4 toes
Sacral spinal nerves Location of the dermatomes
S1 Lower back, back of the thigh, back and inside of the calf, and pinky toe
S2 Buttocks, genitals, and back of the thigh and calf
S3 Buttocks and genitals
S4 Buttocks
S5 Buttocks
Coccygeal spinal nerves Location of the dermatomes
Buttocks and tailbone area

QUESTION

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What conditions can be diagnosed with the help of dermatomes?

Dermatomes can help diagnose medical conditions as they are located in the same area in almost every human. Conditions commonly diagnosed with the help of dermatomes include:

What is the difference between dermatomes and myotomes?

The major difference between a dermatome and myotomes is their location and type of nerve supply:

  • Dermatomes are areas on the skin supplied by a particular sensory spinal nerve
  • Myotomes originate from a group of muscles supplied by a single spinal motor nerve.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/dermatomes/article_em.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535401/