Do L5 and S1 nerve root compressions produce radicular pain in a dermatomal pattern?
Dermatomal charts vary and previous studies have demonstrated significant individual subject variation. This article analysed distribution of L5 and S1 dermatomes.
Subjects included had a proven nerve root compression (NRC); radiologically and surgically. In the study subjects were asked to complete a diagram of their pain and pins and needles distribution. The results showed a significant overlap of dermatomes, as most patients indicated pain or pins and needles in more than one dermatomal area. For example from the patients with L5 NRC, 22% showed pain in the front of the leg, 61% pain on the back of the leg and 13% in both, front and back.
The main conclusions from this article are:
- Individual subject variation is significant.
- Self-reported distribution of pain and pins and needles from a single NRC extends over many dermatomes.
- The most frequently indicated dermatome does not often correspond to the actual anatomical root affected.
- Patient self-report is an unreliable method of identification of the level of NRC.
> From: Taylor et al., Spine 12 (2013) 995-998. All rights reserved to Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
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