Dermatome Map

The Dermatome Map depicts the spinal nerve distribution across the body. Download this PDF to help you learn more about the patient's clinical condition. 

By Chloe Smith on Jul 15, 2024.


Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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Dermatome Map PDF Example
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What is a Dermatome Map?

A Dermatome Map is a clinical guide that shows the dermatome areas supplied by a single spinal nerve. Traumatic injury to a nerve root can lead to symptoms affecting the entire body through its corresponding dermatome. From the Spinal cord, 31 pairs of spinal nerves branch out roots to the skin. These areas have two-way functions; they deliver and receive sensational signals to the brain.

The 31 pairs of spinal nerves are spread out in your body based on the region of the spinal cord they are connected to. These human dermatomes are divided into five groups:

  • Cervical nerves: These nerves originate from the neck and are numbered C1 through C8 in pairs.
  • Thoracic nerves: These nerves originate from the spine and go up to the torso. They are numbered T1 through T12 in pairs.
  • Lumbar nerves: These nerves originate from the spine up to the lower back and are numbered L1 through L5 in pairs.
  • Sacral nerves: These are like the lumbar nerves; they are connected with the sacrum, one of the bones found in the pelvis, and numbered S1 through S5 in pairs.
  • Coccygeal nerves: This pair of nerves are located at the buttocks or from the coccyx or tailbone area.

The nerve map follows a different pattern depending on the region where the spinal nerve is located. The locations of the dermatome reveal essential information that would help diagnose the patient's condition.

How to use this Dermatome Map template?

To utilize this Dermatome Map template, familiarize yourself with the nerve map depicting the distribution of sensory regions across the body. Then, follow these steps:

Step 1: Download the PDF 

Once the template is downloaded, decide whether to print it or use it digitally. The PDF is editable, so it can also be used on gadgets. Most clinics use tablets to document or store patient information. 

Step 2: Examine the patient

While the patient is being screened for pain or nerve damage, it is essential to keep the template close to identify where the patient may describe a strange or abnormal sensation. 

Step 3: Fill out the template

Mark the regions where the patient will be delineating an area. In the spaces, list all possible causes of this for better documentation. Ensure that the client's information is well noted. 

Step 4: Read the findings 

Analyze the regions identified to have peculiar sensations. Draw information from the dermatomes found to be painful or damaged. This will then be referred for a specific examination for a thorough diagnosis. 

Step 5: Store the template properly 

Ensure the template is complete and store it in a folder with the patient's other documents if they had any previous consultations. 

Who can use this printable Dermatome Map (PDF)?

This Printable Dermatome Map is a good guide for medical professionals. Most of these professionals work closely with physical therapy or neurology.

Here are the lists of the healthcare practitioners that may utilize this guide:

Although it is not limited to these practitioners, it is good to know that the examiners or any professional who works closely with any physical injury that may cause neurological conditions may find this nerve map helpful. It also helps medical students understand the Dermatome Map and be able to use this in practical examinations. It helps in the subjects of anatomy, neurology, and also in psychiatry.

Why is this template popular with clinicians?

This guide can be utilized in different practices. It serves many medical purposes, especially in becoming a navigator of the root cause. Clinicians have the following reasons why the Dermatomes Map serves them a lot of purposes: 

A reliable examination tool

In examining the patient, this tool helps assess the condition of each specific dermatome and helps understand the condition better. Once the source of the complaint is located, it will reveal much information to the clinician on how to proceed with the treatment. 

Great clue locator

The specific regions of each division of the dermatome indicate the possible conditions a patient is experiencing based on the tested sensation of the particular area being examined. For instance, when a dermatome is being screened for its sensation, say the torso area, the dermatome with specific sensation issues may reveal much about the patient's condition. 

Delineates sensation

A Dermatome Map may help standardize how the patient communicates the pain or the sensation.  

Assists in psychological health

Once a dermatome area is found to have a specific condition or found to have damage, it is highly expected to direct or identify a poor psychological state. Those with osteoarthritis, neck pain, or spinal concerns are reportedly or more likely to have a psychological issue. 

In focus: lumbar dermatome map

We noticed a handful of dermatome map templates, but templates of lumbar dermatome maps are few and far between. That's why we've created a lumbar dermatome map template to help practitioners who want to focus on checking the patient's lower extremities and affected dermatomes or spinal nerves in the lower back region.

To help you out, here's a list of the lower back region's spinal nerves and their corresponding dermatomes.

  • L1: lower back, upper hips, and groin
  • L2: lower back, hips, and tops of the inner thigh
  • L3: lower back, inner thighs, and inner legs below the knees
  • L4: the back of the knees, inner sections of the lower legs, and the heels
  • L5: top of the feet and front of the lower legs
What are the general conditions that affect the dermatomes?
What are the general conditions that affect the dermatomes?

Commonly asked questions

What are the general conditions that affect the dermatomes?

Dermatomes are areas of skin, but the disorders that afflict them usually result from deeper problems in the body. The issues affect the dermatomes because the spinal nerves or spinal cord in that area are affected. The following situations, such as infections, injuries, ischemia, myelomeningocele, spina bifida, spine tumors or cancer, and cysts or fluid-filled cavities, can lead to this type of harm or outcome.

What are the tests that can detect problems with dermatomes?

Numerous tests, such as imaging techniques like CT scans and MRI scans, as well as nerve impulse assessments like cisternogram scans and electromyogram (EMG) tests, can detect or address problems with your spinal nerves and their associated dermatomes.

What are the best treatments that can cure dermatome conditions?

The underlying issue and conditions will determine the best course of treatment for disorders that impact your spinal nerves and their dermatomes. The ideal person to tell you about the various therapies and their advice is a healthcare professional because the treatment options might vary considerably.

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