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VA Disability Rating for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

VA Disability Rating for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

For many Veterans, disabilities are daily challenges. Chronic pain syndromes and illnesses, such as myofascial pain syndrome, can be debilitating depending on their severity.

If you or a loved one served in the military and developed myofascial pain syndrome as a result, you need to know whether you can receive disability benefits for this condition. Read on to learn more about the myofascial pain syndrome VA rating and possible benefits.

What Is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that only affects muscle tissue. Technically, it doesn’t affect your muscles directly but instead affects the “fascia.” The fascia is a thin white connective tissue layer wrapped around your body’s muscles.

When you first start to develop symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome, you may find more tenderness or pain in certain areas of your face or elsewhere in the body. In many cases, it’s because your muscles become overly tight or contracted. This pain syndrome can affect any muscle in your body, but it’s most common in your shoulder, neck, and upper back muscles.

Regardless, myofascial pain syndrome is incredibly common, affecting approximately 85% of people at some point. However, myofascial pain syndrome often ends after some time – if it doesn’t, it can develop into a chronic pain condition.

Common symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include:

  • A deep aching, throbbing, or tight pain
  • Trigger points, which can feel like bumps or knots in your muscle tissue that cause pain when touched
  • Tender or sore muscles
  • Weakness in any affected muscles
  • Reduced range of motion for the affected muscles or areas

Myofascial pain syndrome often coincides with other health conditions or side effects, such as fatigue, headaches, poor sleep, and stress or depression. These conditions can lead to losing one’s job, difficulty maintaining social relationships, and other negative developments.

What Are Common Causes of Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Since myofascial pain syndrome can affect any muscle in the body, there are numerous causes of myofascial pain syndrome. 

That said, the most commonly-known causes of myofascial pain syndrome include:

  • Injury to the muscles
  • Muscle strain or repetitive muscle use
  • Poor posture
  • Muscle weakness or lack of muscle activity
  • Working or living in a cold environment
  • Emotional stress
  • Pinched nerves

If you served in the military, your duties might have caused or aggravated muscle damage or weakness. For instance, repeatedly performing the same motion over and over again to lift heavy equipment or to march across difficult terrain may cause or aggravate myofascial pain syndrome in certain muscle tissues.

Furthermore, suppose you are ever injured in the military. In that case, that muscle injury could lead to the start of myofascial pain syndrome immediately or later in your life (depending on how scar tissue builds up beneath the surface of your skin).

Does the VA Rate Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

The VA does not directly rate myofascial pain syndrome or other chronic pain conditions. That’s because chronic pain conditions are still not perfectly understood and can arise for various reasons.

However, the VA does rate the symptoms you experience from myofascial pain syndrome and other chronic pain conditions. 

For example, suppose you have chronic back pain. In that case, you will still qualify for VA disability benefits, even if the VA doesn’t have a diagnostic code specifically for chronic back pain as a distinct condition.

The VA may rate your myofascial pain syndrome or other chronic pain condition if it is a primary service-connected condition or secondarily service-connected:

  • If it is primarily service-connected, you must prove that you developed the myofascial pain syndrome as a direct result of an incident or injury sustained in the military
  • If it is secondarily service-connected, you must prove that you developed the myofascial pain syndrome because of a primary service-connected condition or injury

If your myofascial pain syndrome is secondary to a primary service-connected condition, you must prove that the service-connected condition caused or aggravated your chronic pain. For example, if you received a service connection for cancer from Agent Orange exposure, then developed myofascial pain syndrome as a result, you can show the VA that you would never have your chronic pain were it not for your initial cancer development.

VA Disability Ratings for Chronic Pain

Depending on the severity of your chronic pain symptoms, the VA may rate your disability higher or lower.

For example, if you experience mild chronic pain anywhere in your body and receive a service connection, you could receive a disability rating between 10% and 30%. This reflects that you experience chronic pain that is not necessarily debilitating. This type of pain does not prevent you from maintaining substantially gainful employment.

If your chronic pain or myofascial pain syndrome is more debilitating or severe, you may receive a higher rating of 50% or more. Such disability ratings will provide you with additional monthly compensation to pay for both medical treatments and to compensate you for reduced working abilities.

Don’t forget to consider total disability individual unemployability (TDIU). Many Veterans with chronic pain have physical impairments that prevent them from being able to work, or their physical pain is so intense that they are not able to hold down a job.

If this is the case for you and your myofascial pain syndrome, you may receive an automatic 100% disability rating, even if your symptoms may not add up to a 100% rating on paper. It’s a wise idea to speak to knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys about your conditions and to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

What Happens If Your Rating Doesn’t Reflect Your Symptoms or Pain Level?

If your current disability rating doesn’t reflect the symptoms or pain you feel from myofascial pain syndrome, you can appeal your current VA disability rating using the appeals process.

In this process, you’ll need to reopen your claim for disability benefits with substantiating evidence proving:

  • That your symptoms or conditions are more severe than initially rated
  • That your symptoms or conditions deserve a higher disability rating than they would normally (in the case of seeking an extra schedular rating)

As noted above, Veterans law attorneys can help you through this process by helping you gather evidence, breaking down your options, and helping you file a successful benefits application.

How Do You File a Benefits Claim for Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

To file a benefits claim for your myofascial pain syndrome or other chronic pain, you must fill out Form 21-526EZ. In this form, you’ll include:

  • All the evidence you have to substantiate your claim, including lay statements from yourself and family members, medical documentation, and a nexus letter from your primary care physician. The nexus letter will provide their opinion that your condition was caused or exacerbated by your time in the military
  • Your service records, which can prove an inciting incident or injury that occurred in the military

The right Veterans law firm will be able to help you in various ways. For example, if you contact Berry Law, we can help by:

  • Gather evidence on your behalf, which can be helpful if your myofascial pain syndrome or other chronic pain is debilitating
  • Help you substantiate or improve your claim by presenting your evidence in the right way and by ensuring that your claim doesn’t have any typos or other errors
  • Walking you through the appeals process if you wish to improve your disability rating or seek an extra schedular rating
  • And more

Contact Berry Law

The VA may not rate myofascial pain syndrome specifically, but it does provide disability benefits for all types of chronic pain conditions. Depending on the severity of your condition and the symptoms you experience, you could receive a disability rating ranging from 0% to 100% or more. It all depends on the strength of your benefits claim and the evidence you provide.

Berry Law can help you gather the right evidence to substantiate your disability benefits claim, or help you appeal a denied claim for benefits, so contact us today.

Sources:

Myofascial Pain Syndrome – StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf

About VA Disability Ratings | Veterans Affairs

About VA Form 21-526EZ | Veterans Affairs

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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