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Veterans Law

VA Disability for Ankle Tendonitis

July 26, 2020

Overview of Ankle Tendonitis

Ankle tendonitis (i.e., peroneal tendonitis) is the inflammation of one or two of the tendons that surround the ankle joint.  Tendons are thick bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones and enable the movement of joints.  The foot and ankle are connected by two peroneal tendons that run behind the rear bone of the ankle (i.e., fibula) and connect on either side of the foot.  The main function of these tendons is to stabilize the foot and ankle and protect them from injury.  When one or both of these tendons becomes inflamed, the resulting condition is called ankle tendonitis.  Signs and symptoms of ankle tendonitis include the following:

  • Aching pain on the outside and back of the ankle
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth around ankle
  • Pain during physical activity (e.g., walking, prolonged standing, etc.)
  • Pain when turning the foot inward
  • Pain when pushing off the ball of the foot

The most common causes of tendonitis of the ankle are overuse, traumatic injury, and wearing the wrong type of shoes over a prolonged period of time.  Treatments for ankle tendonitis depend on the severity of the condition.  Some doctors may recommend a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation.  In some cases, physical therapy may be required.  Physical therapy for tendonitis usually includes passive modalities (e.g., heat, ultrasound, soft-tissue massage), manual therapy (i.e., hands-on techniques to mobilize joints and loosen tightness), range of motion exercises, and strengthening exercises (e.g., resistance bands, weights, and exercise balls used to build up strength in the ankle).  In the most severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the tendon(s).

Veterans and Ankle Tendonitis

Many veterans suffer from ankle tendonitis due to the physical demands of active duty military service.  Oftentimes, a veteran’s active duty service requires them to be on their feet most of the day.  During this time, veterans may be engaged in fitness-related activities and jobs that require a lot of physical exertion.  Such jobs and activities may persist throughout the duration of their service thereby leading to overuse.

It is also important to note that veterans are usually completing these physically demanding activities in military-issued boots, which can often lead to other foot conditions.  Finally, veterans may be involved in an accident resulting in a traumatic injury to their ankle.  For example, veterans involved in parachuting accidents often report ankle injuries later in life.  Such injuries could then lead to tendonitis.

If you believe your tendonitis is related to your active duty military service, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits.

Service Connection for Ankle Tendonitis

To establish service connection on a direct basis, veterans must satisfy three requirements.  Specifically, veterans must have:

  • A current diagnosis of ankle tendonitis
  • Evidence of an in-service event, injury, or illness
  • A medical nexus linking their diagnosed condition to the in-service occurrence

Typically, the third requirement (i.e., a medical nexus) is satisfied by attending a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam in which a VA healthcare provider, or VA-contracted healthcare provider, opines that the veteran’s ankle tendonitis is “at least as likely as not” due to their time in service.  However, veterans have the right to obtain a private medical opinion as well.  This may be especially helpful in cases where the veteran’s C&P exam yields unfavorable results.

How Does VA Rate Ankle Tendonitis?

Once service connection is established, VA will assign a disability rating depending on the severity of the condition.  Ankle tendonitis is usually rated under 38 CFR § 4.71, Schedule of Ratings – Musculoskeletal System, Diagnostic Codes 5270 or 5271.  Under diagnostic code (DC) 5270, ankle tendonitis is rated according to ankylosis of the ankle (i.e., abnormal stiffening and immobility) as follows:

  • 40% – in plantar flexion at more than 40 degrees, or in dorsiflexion at more than 10 degrees or with abduction, adduction, inversion, or eversion deformity
  • 30% – in plantar flexion, between 30 and 40 degrees, or in dorsiflexion, between 0 and 10 degrees
  • 20% – in plantar flexion, less than 30 degrees

On the other hand, if it is rated under DC 5271, limited motion of the ankle, the rating criteria is as follows:

  • 20% – marked limitation of motion
  • 10% – moderate limitation of motion

Was Your VA Disability Claim Denied?

Unfortunately, Veterans are denied rightfully-owed VA disability benefits every day. If your VA claim has been wrongly denied, contact the experienced VA disability attorneys and advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD here or call us at any time at 800-544-9144.