VA Disability for Knee Tendonitis: What To Know

VA Disability for Knee Tendonitis: What To Know

Knee tendonitis affects thousands of Veterans every year. This chronic condition can be quite serious and can limit a Veteran’s mobility, enjoyment of life, and even the types of jobs they can hold in the civilian sector. Furthermore, knee tendonitis can be very uncomfortable and even debilitating at times.

The VA does offer disability benefits to Veterans with knee tendonitis, provided that tendonitis was either directly caused by military service or by a service-connected condition. 

This article will break down everything you need to know about VA disability for knee tendonitis, including the relevant diagnostic codes, the disability rating percentage the VA awards for knee tendonitis, and more.

Knee Tendonitis Explained

Knee tendonitis, also called patellar tendonitis, directly affects the tendon connecting the kneecap and shinbone(the titular patella tendon). This vital tendon works with many of your leg muscles to let you move your legs in various ways. Without this tendon, you will struggle with jumping, bending your knee, running, andkicking nearly.

Knee tendonitis is common among athletes or individuals who do intense leg exercises, such as squats or box jumps. Many Veterans also suffer from knee tendonitis due to their military service.

Knee tendonitis symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Intense pain in the kneecap or along the shinbone/tibia
  • Lingering pain that gets worse over time
  • Limited mobility in the knee and leg

Given enough time without treatment, knee tendonitis could prevent Veterans from climbing stairs, standing from chairs, and performing other daily activities. Knee tendonitis is a common overuse injury that usually resulting from an overstressed patellar tendon. The tendon becomes torn or weakened over time, eventually leading to this condition.

How Do Veterans Get Knee Tendonitis?

Veterans may sustain injuries like knee tendonitis because of the physicality of their duties. For example, active combat personnel may get knee tendonitis because of running, jumping, or simply walking while carrying heavy military equipment.Even lifting heavy boxes, performing physical activities, working on mechanical operations, and more can expose the patellar tendon to intense stress and strain. 

Alternatively, Veterans may get knee tendonitis as a result from other conditions. Some chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and kidney failure may cause knee tendonitis by disrupting blood flow to the patellar tendon. If these chronic illnesses are service connected, you may be able to claim the resulting knee tendonitis.

If you seek service connection for your knee tendonitis, a doctor may examine your knee by pressing down on different points to locate the source of the pain. Your physician may also perform other tests to see how you sustained your knee tendonitis in the first place.

Treatments for Knee Tendonitis

Fortunately, knee tendonitis is oftentimes treatable. Most of these treatments are also non-invasive, including:

  • Ice or heat therapy to reduce inflammation and help your knee tissue regenerate itself
  • Use of pain relievers to allow Veterans to move around or continue working
  • Strengthening exercises to rebuild the strength in the patellar tendon
  • Stretching exercises to rebuild patellar tendon flexibility

That said, some knee tendonitis symptoms are too severe for conventional treatments. 

Can You Get Disability Benefits for Knee Tendonitis?

Yes. The VA does offer disability benefits for knee tendonitis and related conditions or symptoms. However, Veterans seeking disability benefits must prove a direct or secondary connection between their knee tendonitis and their time in the service or another service connected condition. These benefits may include treatment, monthly compensation, etc.

Direct vs. Secondary Service Connection

A direct service connection is awarded when the VA agrees that an injury or health condition was directly caused by an event that occured while a Veteran was in the military. For example, if a Veteran suffers from a back injury during combat, they could receive a direct service connection award..

Secondary service connection may occur when an already service connected condition causes or aggravates another ailment. . For instance, if a Veteran suffers a back injury that changes how they walk due to their time spent in the military, then develops knee tendonitis as a result of that shift in their gait, the knee tendonitis could be awarded a secondary service connection.

How To Receive a Direct Service Connection

To obtain a direct service connection, Veterans will file a claim with the VA. In that claim, they must:

  • Point to a single accident, event or illness that occured in service. This can be an injury during a tour of duty, chemical exposure while at a specific base, or even experiencing a traumatic event . Generally, disability benefits for knee tendonitis are contingent on being able to point to a specific incident or accident that caused it with service records to support the claim.
  • Show that the Veteran currently suffers from knee tendonitis typically by obtaining a diagnosis from a licensed medical professional.
  • Illustrate that the in-service event caused the current condition.

How To Prove a Secondary Service Connection

When they file their claim for the secondary condition, a Veteran must:

  • Show they are currently suffering from knee tendonitis. 
  • Illustrate the Veteran is service connected with a condition
  • Prove the service connected condition caused or aggravated the knee tendonitis.

VA Disability Ratings for Knee Tendonitis

The VA rates knee tendonitis according to different diagnostic codes and at different rating percentages.

Limitation of Extension of the Knee

Under diagnostic code 5261, the VA classifies limitation of extension of the knee as a condition where the Veteran’s knee is not frozen but IS limited in its extension — meaning it cannot fully bend and extend like normal.

Depending on the severity of symptoms and limitation of mobility, a Veteran with knee tendonitis under diagnostic code 5261 could receive a disability rating between 0% and 50%. 

Medical practitioners use specific measurements of one’s range of motion to determine the disability percentage. For instance, if a Veteran can only straighten their leg to 45° as opposed to 100°, they may receive a 50% disability rating. 

Limitation of Flexion of the Knee

Under diagnostic code 5260, the VA classifies limitation of flexion of the knee as a condition where the Veteran’s knee is not frozen but the Veteran cannot move their knee back or toward their body.

As with limitation of extension of the knee, disability ratings can vary depending on mobility limitation and discomfort. This is the most common among all knee conditions for which Veterans get disability benefits, with disability ratings ranging between 0% and 30% maximum.

How To Get Benefits for Knee Tendonitis

The best means to ensure you get disability benefits for your knee tendonitis is to contact a knowledgeable Veterans law attorney right away.

The right Veterans law attorney can help:

  • Connect you to knowledgeable medical professionals to get your knee tendonitis or other conditions diagnosed quickly.
  • Support you in filing a successful disability benefits application.
  • Guide you through the appeals process to overturn a denied benefits application.

Contact Berry Law Today

Knee tendonitis can be difficult to live with, especially if you have to struggle with finances at the same time. No Veteran should be denied the benefits they rightfully deserve for their service to our country. At Berry Law, we believe in tearing down barriers to your benefits.

That’s why we’re available for a free consultation and/or case evaluation if you contact us today. We’re experienced and educated Veteran law attorneys and know exactly how to help you file a successful claim for disability benefits for your knee tendonitis. 

Furthermore, we can help you appeal a denied disability benefits claim if you have already applied and been turned away. Or, we can help you receive benefits for secondary conditions related to your knee pain.

Don’t wait. Contact us today for more information.


Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee) | Johns Hopkins Medicine

38 CFR § 4.71a – Schedule of ratings – musculoskeletal system | Cornell

eCFR :: 38 CFR Part 4 — Schedule for Rating Disabilities |

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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