Medicine (MD/DO)
Anatomy & Embryology
Dermatomes - Cervical

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Dermatomes - Cervical

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Dermatomes - Cervical

Mr. Skin Divisions with Cervical-Cat
The skin's surface is divided into specific areas called dermatomes, which are mainly supplied by a single spinal nerve. There are 8 cervical nerves (C1 being an exception with no dermatome), 12 thoracic nerves, 5 lumbar nerves and 5 sacral nerves. Each of these nerves relays sensation (and pain) from a particular region of skin to the brain.
C2 - Posterior Cap Distribution
(C) Cat in (2) Tutu kicking Post-terrier Cap

Cervical spinal nerve 2 (C2) innervates the skin of the posterior skull displaying a posterior "cap" distribution.

C3 - High Turtleneck
(C) Cat in (3) Tree wearing High Turtleneck

C3, the third cervical spinal nerve, innervates the skin to have sensation in a "high turtleneck" pattern around the neck.

C4 - Low Collar Shirt
(C) Cat with (4) Fork wearing Low Collar Shirt

Cervical nerve 4 (C4), innervates the skin near the neck in a "low collar shirt" distribution. Its control of the thoracic diaphragm has inspired a medical mnemonic: "Cut C4, breathe no more."

C5 - Anterolateral Shoulder
(C) Cat with (5) Hand slapping Ant-eater-on-ladder across Shoulder

The cervical spinal nerve 5 (C5) is responsible for innervating the anterolateral shoulder skin and sensation pathways.

C6 - Thumb
(C) Cat with (6) Sax all Thumbs

The cervical spinal nerve 6 (C6) is responsible for sensation and skin innervation of the thumb and posterolateral arm.

C7 - Middle Finger
(C) Cat with Lucky (7) flipping Middle Finger

C7 innervates skin and sensation of the posterior arm to the middle and pointer fingers.

C8 - Pinky Finger
(C) Cat with (8) Ball shot by Pinky Finger

The C8 nerve receives sensory afferents from the C8 dermatome. This consists of all the skin on the little finger, and continuing up slightly past the wrist on the palmar and dorsal aspects of the hand and forearm. Clinically, a test of the pad of the little finger is often used to assess C8 integrity.


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