Musculoskeletal disorders are a broad range of conditions that affect your muscles, bones, or joints. They are very common conditions and can vary from mild disorders that cause occasional pain and discomfort to severe disorders that can be extremely debilitating.
For VA purposes, some common musculoskeletal disorders include:
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- rheumatoid arthritis
- bone fractures
- muscle strains
- ruptured discs
There are many more types of musculoskeletal disorders. Risk factors for these disorders include occupational activities, particularly repetitive and forceful tasks, as well as postural issues and other lifestyle habits.
Common Musculoskeletal Disorders for Veterans
In the VA’s Annual Benefits Report for the 2015 fiscal year, several musculoskeletal disorders are listed as some of the most prevalent disabilities for both new compensation recipients and all compensation recipients.
Among new compensation recipients, five of the ten most prevalent disabilities are musculoskeletal disorders. These disabilities include lumbosacral or cervical strains, limited knee flexion, limited ankle motion, knee impairment, and bursitis.
Among all compensation recipients, several of the same musculoskeletal disorders are present, along with degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Disability Compensation for Musculoskeletal Disorders
Ideally, a veteran who experiences a musculoskeletal disorder should apply for disability benefits immediately after leaving military service, or even just before discharge. At this time, a veteran is more likely to remember the specific event that caused an injury, which will make it easier to provide evidence of service connection.
However, some veterans may wait to file claims for musculoskeletal disorders because they are mild or only occasionally cause pain or discomfort. Over time, these injuries can deteriorate to the point where they cause more frequent and intense pain, and can interfere with activities of daily life and one’s ability to work. By filing a claim early on, a veteran can get service connection granted, and then the option to go back and file a claim for an increased rating if symptoms worsen will always be available.
Musculoskeletal disorders will typically require proof of service connection, but there are some exceptions. Fibromyalgia, which involves muscle pain throughout the body, is a presumptive disability for Persian Gulf War Veterans. Joint and muscle pain can also be a symptom of a medically unexplained illness, which is a presumptive condition for Gulf War Veterans as well.
The attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick have over 25 years of experience helping veterans get the benefits they deserve. Call our office at 401-331-6300 to receive your no-cost case consultation.