How is dermatomal sensory and reflex testing used in the evaluation of mechanical low back pain?

Updated: Mar 30, 2020
  • Author: Everett C Hills, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Test for sensation and reflexes using 0-2 ordinal scale for pinprick sensation (0 = no sensation, 1 = diminished sensation, and 2 = normal sensation), and 0-4 ordinal scale to rate reflexes (0 = no reflex, 1 = hyporeflexic, 2 = normal reflex, 3 = hyperreflexic, and 4 = hyperreflexic with clonus).

Table 2. Dermatomal Sensory and Reflex Testing (Open Table in a new window)

Nerve Root

Pin-Prick Sensation



Lateral thigh and medial femoral condyle

Patellar tendon reflex


Medial leg and medial ankle

Patellar tendon reflex


Lateral leg and dorsum of foot

Medial hamstring


Sole of foot and lateral ankle

Achilles tendon reflex

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