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What are Dermatomes? A Simple Explanation
We live in a state of constant communication. With the click of a button, we’re able to send information across thousands of miles, connecting us to friends and family across the globe. Our cell phones convert our voices into electrical signals, which are carried by radio waves to nearby cell towers. From there, a network of towers sends those waves to our friends’ phones, converting them back into signals and relaying them as the sound of your voice. What seems to us like a modern miracle of technology actually isn’t all that different from how the separate parts of our bodies communicate sensory signals such as pain, temperature, touch, and pressure.
Dermatomes on our skin relay information to our spinal nerves, which then send signals to our brain that create these outward sensations. Healthy dermatomes are essential to our daily lives, as they are the first line of defense for our bodies’ reactions to outside stressors. But how do we ensure that our dermatomes are working correctly? And what happens when they’re damaged? Keep reading to learn more about your dermatomes, their functions, and how all33 can protect them from harm.
Dermatomes: What are They?
A dermatome is an area of skin that sends signals to your brain through a single spinal nerve. Your body has 31 pairs of spinal nerves, 30 of which correspond to a dermatome. The specific pattern of your dermatomes varies from person to person, but each body contains 30 dermatomes, and each dermatome has a spinal nerve.
When your spinal nerves are damaged, it affects their dermatomes and the signals sent to your brain that trigger pressure and pain. Although the primary function of dermatomes is to help determine whether the sensory loss of a limb corresponds to a nerve, they also help us determine the origin of our sensations.
What is the Significance of a Dermatome?
Dermatomes are essential when identifying infections and diseases. Knowing the origins of pains, temperatures, and pressures is vital for protecting your body from further harm. Dermatomes are an important step in communicating this spatial information from our nerves to our brains. But dermatomes can also signal larger problems within our bodies.
When your nerve root becomes irritated or compressed internally, your dermatomes send signals to your brain that create pains, rashes, and other unpleasant sensations, including dysfunction of the spine, radiculopathy, and viral infection. Understanding your nerves is vital to understanding the symptoms and causes of dermatome malfunction.
Nerves are the communicators of your body. There are eight cervical nerves, twelve thoracic nerves, five lumbar nerves, and five sacral nerves. These nerves receive information through your senses— touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound—and deliver that information to your brain. Your brain then determines your outward reactions to this sensory input.
Nerves are the reason we know to cover our ears if noise is too loud. They help you realize when you’ve been scratched or know which hand to remove from a burning stovetop, giving you the opportunity to seek timely help.
Your dermatomes allow your nerves to transmit sensory information from a section of your skin to the brain. Without nerves, your dermatomes would have no data to send to the brain. Similarly, without dermatomes, your nerves would be unable to send their information to the brain. These two elements of your body work together to help your nerves do their job.
Problems and Injuries That Can Affect Dermatomes
When your nerve root is injured, it presents itself through various symptoms, including spinal cord injury, sensory loss, and vertebral pain. These injuries are often caused by nerve root compression. They make it impossible for your dermatomes to work properly in tandem with your nerves to send those all-important sensory messages to your brain. Instead, new messages are sent relaying pain and pressure from your nerve root damage.
Spinal Cord Injur
The spinal cord is the main communication pathway of your body. Causes of spinal cord injury include infection, blocked blood supply, and bone compression
Your spinal cord can be injured due to damaged vertebrae, ligaments, spinal column disk, or the spinal cord itself. This can occur in any instance where there is a sudden blow to your spinal column, but there are additional nontraumatic injuries caused by swelling, bleeding, inflammation, or fluid accumulation in and around the cord. You may experience symptoms such as loss of sensation, loss of muscle strength, and loss of bladder function.
One of the most common ways to develop bone compression, one of the causes of spinal injuries, is by putting too much pressure on your bones when sitting. Something as simple as poor posture can cause significant damage to the spine over time.
Sensory loss occurs when your central nervous system is injured. This can occur when dermatomes overlap, damaging the nerve root.
During sensory loss, receptors in the skin, muscle, and joints are injured. The information from these receptors cannot be transmitted to the peripheral nervous system.
Lumbar muscle strains are the most common cause of vertebral pain. Lumbar muscle strain occurs when your muscles are abnormally stretched. This can result from a traumatic injury or gradual overuse of these muscles. The lumbar and cervical spines become strained after bearing weight for extended periods of time, such as sitting at your desk.
A Possible Solution to Help Your Dermatomes: all33
Sitting incorrectly can damage your nerves, which in turn harms your dermatomes and leads to severe cases of chickenpox and shingles. Improper posture while sitting can also irritate the spine, which allows you to stand, run, and walk.
It is hard to eliminate sitting for long periods with our busy work schedules, but all33 has made it possible to sit without causing lumbar strain. Our chair lets you move your pelvis while you sit to relieve unnecessary pressure put on your back muscles and therefore reduce the rate of root nerve compression.
Our chair has the potential to prevent damage to your spinal nerves and dermatomes once and for all. The BackStrong allows you to sit up straight while you work, preventing you from straining your back muscles over time. The design of the seat also means that your body can constantly readjust its posture without even thinking about it. You’ll be protecting your dermatomes, all while sitting in comfort.
We can take many steps for our physical health, and we should -- the sooner, the better. For our bodies to function at their best, we have to take care of our nerves by supporting our lumbar muscles and spine in a chair that provides maximum support. Enter: the all33 chair.
Ensure that your workspace supports efficiency and health. Purchase helpful home office supplies like the all33 chair, keep everything within reach, and use a footrest to promote proper lower body alignment, and you’ll be well on your way to caring for your dermatomes in the way that they deserve to be.
- Dermatomes Diagram: Spinal Nerves and Locations | HealthlineMedicine LibreTexts: Home
- Shingles - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
- Chickenpox - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
- 11 Fun Facts About the Nervous System | Healthline
- Injuries of the Spinal Cord and Vertebrae - Injuries and Poisoning | Merck Manuals
- Overview of Spinal Cord Disorders - Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders | Merck Manuals
- Approach to the patient with sensory loss | Up To Date
- Spinal Pain – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments | AANS