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VA Disability Rating for Metatarsalgia in Vets

VA Disability Rating for Metatarsalgia in Vets

All service members have to carry heavy equipment. That’s especially true for frontline service members, who often carry dozens of pounds of equipment and survival gear whenever they enter the field.

That weight can take a toll on your feet, leading to conditions like metatarsalgia. If you or a loved one served in the military and developed metatarsalgia because of your military service, you could qualify for limited disability benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the metatarsalgia VA rating and other details.

What Is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a foot pain condition characterized by intense soreness and inflammation in the ball of one’s feet. The ball of your foot is located near the top, typically directly behind your index toe (between the big and middle toes).

Metatarsalgia can develop due to activities that involve a lot of jumping, running, or carrying heavy equipment. Some of the most common symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Sharp, aching, burning, or other pain in the ball of the foot. The pain will likely need to be extremely localized to be characterized as metatarsalgia
  • Pain worsens when you flex your feet, walk, stand, or run. The pain normally improves when you rest your feet
  • Numbness, tingling, or sharp or shooting pain in your toes
  • A feeling like you have a constant pebble in your shoe or sock

Generally, metatarsalgia is relatively mild. That said, it can prevent you from walking, completing your work, and more if left untreated or the pain is severe enough. 

Metatarsalgia treatments include at-home treatments like rest or applying an ice pack to the affected area. If you see a doctor, they may prescribe pain relief medication or specific footwear that features shock-absorbing insoles. You might be required to wear shoes with arch supports to minimize or stop future metatarsalgia-related problems from cropping up later.

Metatarsalgia doesn’t usually require medical care. However, in a small percentage of America’s Veterans, metatarsalgia can be debilitating and prevent them from walking around like normal. In these instances, they may be eligible for some disability compensation.

What Are the Causes of Metatarsalgia?

Many factors cause metatarsalgia, such as intense activity or training that place undue stress on the feet. Because of the type of work that one completes in the military, metatarsalgia can be very common in Veterans.

For example, if you were a frontline service member and had to carry a heavy pack around on marches and drills all day, you placed a lot of pressure on your feet. If your foot shape already puts you at risk of metatarsalgia, you may develop the condition because of your military service.

Other causes of metatarsalgia include:

  • Having a certain foot shape, specifically a high arch, which can put added pressure on your metatarsals (the area that is affected by metatarsalgia)
  • Having a foot deformity
  • Wearing shoes that do not fit your feet. If you wear shoes that are too small, your stride might be affected, placing too much stress on the balls of your feet
  • Having stress fractures, which can occur after long marches or jumping up and down (which can occur during some military exercises)
  • Having to move too much extra weight for too long. Again, this can happen in the military depending on your exact position and responsibilities

Bottom line: Military service can and does lead to the development of metatarsalgia. Therefore, it often qualifies Veterans for direct service connections and disability benefits.

Can Metatarsalgia Lead to Other Foot Problems?

If you don’t treat your metatarsalgia, it could lead to further foot pain or contribute to overall foot disability. The pain can become so intense that Veterans can no longer walk without discomfort.

Metatarsalgia may also indicate other foot injuries, like stress fractures. For instance, if there are tiny fractures in one’s feet, those fractures can grow over time, eventually leading to agonizing pain and full breaks. Those breaks can prevent service members from working.

Furthermore, metatarsalgia can lead to Morton’s disease, also called Morton’s neuroma. This is characterized by the thickening of tissue around the nerves leading to your toes. It can cause sharp or burning pain in the ball of one or both feet, foot numbness, and more.

What Is VA Rating for Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is rated under Diagnostic Code 5279. Any type of metatarsalgia receives a 10% disability rating regardless of severity or whether a Veteran has only one or both feet affected by the condition. The same is true if you have diagnosed Morton’s disease or Morton’s neuroma.

As you can see, this is not a very high disability rating. However, your metatarsalgia VA rating can be combined with other foot conditions or other disabilities you received due to your military service.

Establishing Direct Service Connection for Your Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia can arise because of your military service and the work you performed while serving America’s people. Therefore, you can establish direct service connection for your metatarsalgia and receive disability benefits by filing a disability benefits application form.

To establish direct service connection, you’ll want to collect evidence proving that you have metatarsalgia and that you developed it during or after your time in the military. Specifically, you’ll need lay statements from friends and family members.

You may also choose to submit an optional nexus letter from a private medical professional stating they believe your metatarsalgia developed due to your time in the military.

Once you gather the appropriate evidence, you’ll need to submit it to the VA and wait for a disability benefits decision.

However, you may also qualify for secondary service connection because of your metatarsalgia under certain circumstances. For example, if you develop a leg, back, or hip condition and have direct service connection for that condition, that disability may lead you to walk differently. If you walk differently or your stride changes significantly over time, it could cause or aggravate metatarsalgia as a result.

In this way, your metatarsalgia arose only because of a direct service-connected disability. In such instances, you could still qualify for the 10% disability rating mentioned above. 

C&P Exams for Metatarsalgia

If the VA finds that there is a good reason to believe your metatarsalgia arose because of your military service, it may order a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam. At the C&P Exam, a VA-appointed medical professional will examine your foot condition and determine whether your metatarsalgia is bad enough to warrant disability benefits.

If the VA examiner issues a favorable opinion, you’ll receive service connection from the VA and start qualifying for disability benefits. If the VA examiner issues an unfavorable opinion, meaning they disagree with your claim that your metatarsalgia came from your military service, you’ll need to pursue another route to benefits.

In either case, you should ask for a copy of your C&P Exam report. This can be invaluable evidence when appealing a VA decision.

Contact Berry Law Today

As you can see, your initial metatarsalgia disability benefits may not be high unless the condition has led to other disabilities or is combined with other disabling injuries. To maximize your disability compensation and ensure you file your paperwork correctly, contact knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys to help increase your VA rating.

At Berry Law, our specialists can help you through the disability benefits appeal process from start to finish. We’ll also explore your options for improving your disability rating if you have metatarsalgia combined with some other disability condition. Contact us today to get started.

Sources:

Metatarsalgia | NCBI

Morton Neuroma – StatPearls | NCBI

Department of Veterans Affairs § 4.71a | GPO

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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