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How accurate are dermatome maps?

KimD592KKimD592 Posts: 435
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Chronic Pain
The title of this post is pretty self explanatory. At my appt with the NS yesterday, he asked me to show him where it hurt. At the time I wasn't having pain, because I had been sitting and hadn't been up and moving around much yet. I pointed to the general area, but when I'm not having pain, it's very difficult to isolate. When I pointed there, he felt it was T10-11. The office is about an hour and a half from my home, so my mom and I went out to eat lunch just down the block from the office. A couple of minutes into our walk, the pain started and I was able to show my mom where the pain was, which was higher than where I had pointed to. We went back to the office after lunch and I showed the doctor. At that point he wasn't so sure and said we definitely need a new MRI and possibly CT myelogram, if the next MRI doesn't clearly show which disc it is.

Anyway, I decided to look at a dermatome map just out of curiosity, and it seems that pain from T10-11 correlates with areas much lower than where I pointed to. Granted, I'm only 5'2" so I guess that has to be taken into account. But the area that hurts is right around my left shoulder blade. It wraps around to the front, just below my ribcage. According to the dermatome map, the pain in the front would be much lower, like around my naval area.

Anyway, just curious to know if those dermatome maps are really accurate.


  • They're relatively accurate. Everyone's anatomy can be a little different, after all we're not carbon copies. A doctor will normally reference a dermatome map, imagery, physical exam, diagnostic tests, and their experience to determine the problem area.

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