What Is Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is a condition that encompasses a range of symptoms produced by the pinching of a nerve root in the spinal column. The pinched nerve can occur in different locations along the spine (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar), resulting in nerve pain affecting different areas of the body. The most common symptoms of this condition are:
- Sharp pain in the back, arms, legs or shoulders that may worsen with certain activities
- Weakness or loss of reflexes in arms and legs
- Numbness of the skin or other abnormal sensations
Each individual’s symptoms will depend on the location of the pinched nerve root in the spine, so symptoms can vary from person to person. Anyone experiencing the above symptoms, regardless of bodily location, should see his or her doctor.
Radiculopathy is a common condition among veterans because of the physical requirements of military service. Many service members, at one time or another, will experience a back injury as a result of a service connected incident. Some back injuries can result in a pinched nerve root, which produces radiculopathy. Due to the common occurrence of radiculopathy among veterans, the VA has developed a disability rating schedule for the condition with the purpose of providing compensation to veterans who developed radiculopathy as a result of their service.
Getting Service Connection For Radiculopathy
Veterans seeking service connection for their radiculopathy will need multiple kinds of evidence in order to prove to the VA that their condition is a result of their military service. The two most important kinds of evidence veterans need to provide are medical records and service personnel records. Medical records are important because they can show the VA that (1) the veteran received treatment and a diagnosis for radiculopathy in service, (2) the veteran received treatment and a diagnosis for radiculopathy within one year of discharge, or (3) the veteran’s radiculopathy is due to another service-connected condition, such as degenerative disc disease or diabetes. Medical records are also important for providing information on the severity of the veteran’s radiculopathy, which can help the VA determine the proper schedular disability rating for the veteran’s condition.
Service personnel records are another helpful source of evidence for a veteran’s claim because they can provide the VA with information about the veteran’s service location, times of service, and military occupational specialty (MOS). This type of information can also tell the VA if there were any injury-causing incidents that could have led to the veterans radiculopathy, or any requested occupational changes following the onset of radiculopathy symptoms, whether or not the veteran sought medical treatment for those symptoms at an in-service medical center.
How The VA Rates Radiculopathy
Under 38 CFR § 4.124a, the VA rates radiculopathy depending on the section of spine affected by the pinched nerve root. Below, there are descriptions for the VA disability rating schedules for each radicular group. Ratings are assigned based on the severity of the condition, with more severe radiculopathy receiving a higher rating and more compensation.
- Upper radicular group (fifth and sixth cervicals)
Diagnostic Code 8510 Paralysis of:
|Complete: all shoulder and elbow movement lost or severely affected||70||60|
Diagnostic Code 8610 Neuritis.
Diagnostic Code 8710 Neuralgia.
- Middle radicular group
Diagnostic Code 8511 Paralysis of:
|Complete: adduction, abduction and rotation of arm, flexion of elbow, and extension of wrist lost or severely affected||70||60|
Diagnostic Code 8611 Neuritis.
Diagnostic Code 8711 Neuralgia.
- Lower radicular group
Diagnostic Code 8512 Paralysis of:
|Complete; all intrinsic muscles of hand, and some or all of flexors of wrist and fingers, paralyzed (substantial loss of use of hand)||70||60|
Diagnostic Code 8612 Neuritis.
Diagnostic Code 8712 Neuralgia.
- All radicular groups
Diagnostic Code 8513 Paralysis of:
Diagnostic Code 8613 Neuritis.
Diagnostic Code 8713 Neuralgia.
For veterans with radiculopathy who cannot work but are rated at less than 100 percent on the VA’s schedular disability rating scale, a total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) rating would allow them to receive compensation at the highest level, even without a 100 percent total schedular disability rating.
Help With Your Radiculopathy VA Claim
If you are a veteran seeking assistance with your radiculopathy claim, our experienced veterans disability attorneys are ready to help. Please contact our office today for a free claim evaluation. We can help you get the schedular disability rating you deserve.