Radiculopathy VA Rating

What Is Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy is a medical condition with damage or compression of the spinal nerve roots, which are the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord and travel to different body parts.

Radiculopathy can occur in any part of the spine but most commonly affects the neck and lower back regions. Lower back pain can cause lumbar radiculopathy.

There is also sciatic nerve radiculopathy, a type of lumbar radiculopathy that affects the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body running from the lower back down to the feet. 

When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, you may feel pain, tingling, incomplete paralysis, or weakness in the lower extremity.

Does the VA Count Radiculopathy as a Disability?

Yes, the Department of Veterans Affairs does recognize radiculopathy as a disability, and veterans may be eligible to receive VA disability benefits based on the VA disability rating.

Radiculopathy can be a temporary disability or a completely disabling condition that may affect a veteran’s ability to work and even perform daily activities.

The radiculopathy VA rating determines the overall compensation the veteran is eligible to receive.

What Kind of Treatment Is Needed for Radiculopathy?

In many cases, radiculopathy can be managed with conservative, non-invasive treatments such as:

  • Physical therapy improves strength and flexion and reduces nerve pain and inflammation.
  • Medications using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and pain relievers.
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve lumbar radiculopathy pain.
  • Rest and activity modification, which promotes the healing of the lower extremity.
  • Chiropractic care relieves symptoms associated with radiculopathy.
  • In severe cases of radiculopathy, more serious treatment and surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the affected nerve roots if treatments have not been effective.

At What Point Does a Pinched Nerve Become Disabling?

A pinched nerve may only cause mild pain or numbness that can be managed with conservative treatments. 

In more severe cases, a pinched nerve can cause extreme neck pain, pain in the lower half of the body, weakness, or loss of sensation, making it impossible to work and perform mundane activities.

Can a Service-Related Injury Cause Radiculopathy?

Yes, radiculopathy can be caused by a service-related injury. 

For example, radiculopathy can stem from a spinal cord nerve injury, neck pain, or lumbar spine pain because of a combat-related incident or a fall during basic training. 

Additionally, some military activities involve repetitive motions or prolonged sitting or standing, which can lead to radiculopathy and flexion difficulties.

What Rating Do I Need From the VA To Get Radiculopathy Treatment or Surgery Covered?

The VA does not require specific VA disability rates for radiculopathy to provide medical treatment or surgical intervention. 

Veterans diagnosed with radiculopathy and eligible for VA disability healthcare benefits can receive treatment for their condition, regardless of their VA disability rating. 

The VA rates impairments in 10% increments from 0% to 100%. A greater VA disability rating denotes a more damaging effect on the veteran’s everyday life and may lead to increased compensation.

How Does the VA Determine My Disability Rating?

To determine a VA disability rating for radiculopathy, the VA will consider a range of factors, including:

  • The severity and duration of symptoms like discomfort in the lumbar spine, flexion difficulties, and fatigue
  • The position and degree of nerve root stenosis of lumbar spine pain
  • The effect of the ailment on the military veterans’ capabilities, particularly their capacity to work while doing everyday tasks
  • The efficacy of therapies like physiotherapy, medicines, and operations for symptomatic treatment on the lower extremity
  • The appearance of any issues, such as muscular atrophy or reflex failure

The VA will issue a disability rating based on these variables that indicate damages induced by radiculopathy, identifying the level of VA benefits eligibility to be given.

Do You Need To Prove Radiculopathy to the VA?

Yes. If you seek VA disability compensation for radiculopathy, you must provide a diagnostic code and the ailment’s relevance to your military service.

Your diagnostic code should include the results of an MRI or CT scan showing the nerve root compression or damage. 

Documents should include a diagnosis of your radiculopathy condition.

How Do You Prove Back Pain?

Back pain cannot be seen on an X-ray or MRI. However, you can support your claim of back pain, especially if you are seeking VA disability compensation, by presenting the following:

  • Medical records
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Testimony from family or friends
  • Occupational and physical therapy results
  • Lay statements

Always be thorough and honest when providing a diagnostic code of your back pain so that the VA can provide you with appropriate VA disability compensation. 

For more information, check out this veteran benefit guide.

How Do I Send in My Disability Claim?

You may submit your VA disability claim online, in the mail, and in person:

  • Online: You can file your claim through the VA’s eBenefits website. Create an account and follow the instructions provided.
  • By mail: Obtain a VA Form 21-526EZ available on the VA website. Print it out and mail it to your area’s VA regional office.
  • In-person: Schedule an appointment with a VA representative and submit your claim at your local VA regional office

Include all relevant medical and service records to support your claim. The VA may request a CP exam for the benefit claim process.

Could I Receive Temporary Disability Benefits for Radiculopathy?

Yes, Temporary Total Disability Rating is a program that provides veterans with disability benefits for incomplete paralysis due to a service-connected condition.

It provides veterans with monthly compensation while they are recovering from their incomplete paralysis and unable to work.

What Financial Compensation Might I Be Eligible for If I Meet the Required Rating?

As of 2023, the monthly VA disability compensation rates range from $144 to $3,340, depending on the VA disability rating and the VA priority groups they belong to. 

In addition to monthly compensation, veterans may be eligible for healthcare, education and training, and vocational rehabilitation.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Working with Trajector increases your chances of receiving the VA disability benefits you are entitled to as a veteran. 

They provide veterans with ongoing support throughout the claims process giving you the answers you need while providing undivided guidance.

If you are a veteran experiencing radiculopathy, know you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Services like our professionally-rated advice can help you navigate the VA claims process and increase your chances of receiving the best treatment and benefits for your condition.

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