Any injuries or disabilities that are the result of military service are eligible for compensation by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some of the most common disabilities Veterans have are the result of injuries to their back, especially those related to the spine. Spinal stenosis is a type of back injury that a Veteran could develop after an in-service injury. If you believe your current spinal injuries are the result of military service, you could receive VA disability for spinal stenosis.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative disc disease that occurs when there is pressure placed on the nerves in your spine. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the space where the nerves run through your spine, causing pain by putting extra pressure on these spinal nerves.
Mayo Clinic notes that there are two different types of spinal stenosis:
- Cervical stenosis, which occurs when there is pressure on the spinal nerves near the top of your spine in the neck region.
- Lumbar stenosis, which occurs when there is pressure on the spinal nerves in your lower back. This is the most common type of spinal stenosis.
What are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
While occasionally a person suffering from spinal stenosis will show zero symptoms, often Veterans seeking VA disability compensation for spinal stenosis will display one or more of the following symptoms:
Cervical Stenosis Symptoms – Numbness or tingling in your arm or leg, weakness in your arm or leg, problems walking, neck pain, and bowel/bladder dysfunction.
Lumbar Stenosis Symptoms – Numbness or tingling in your arm or leg, weakness in your arm or leg, pain or cramping in your legs when you walk, and back pain
If left untreated, spinal stenosis may cause permanent numbness, weakness, balance problems, incontinence, and/or paralysis. In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to relieve the symptoms associated with spinal stenosis.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a form of degenerative disc disease. Often, spinal stenosis is caused by the formation of bone spurs that grow into your spinal canal. However, it can also be caused by herniated discs, thickened ligaments in your spine, tumors, and spinal injuries.
Veterans looking to receive VA disability for spinal stenosis often develop the disability due to an injury to the spine. For example, a car accident or other trauma such as a back injury caused by service, can dislocate or fracture vertebrae, which could lead to spinal stenosis.
Receiving VA Disability for Spinal Stenosis
To receive VA disability for spinal stenosis, like all other disabilities, a Veteran must first establish service connection for the injury. For a Veteran to get a disability service connected, they must:
- Have a current medical diagnosis for the disability
- Have an in-service event or experience that led to the disability
- Get a medical nexus connecting the in-service event to the current medical diagnosis
If a Veteran can prove all three elements listed above, they should be given a disability rating by the department of Veterans affairs. However, Veterans can also receive disability compensation on a secondary basis. This is known as secondary service connection.
Secondary Service Connection for Spinal Stenosis
Secondary service connection occurs when a service-connected disability causes another disability. For example, PTSD can lead to sleep apnea. So, if a Veteran has service connection for PTSD and later develops sleep apnea, they can argue that the sleep apnea was caused by their PTSD.
Basically, the VA understands that the Veteran would not have developed sleep apnea if they didn’t get PTSD while in service. So, they compensate them for the disability on a secondary basis.
If your spinal stenosis was caused by another service-connected disability, you can apply for secondary service connection.
Berry Law – America’s Veterans Law Firm
Berry Law gets Veterans the disability compensation they earned. If you were denied disability benefits by the VA or were given a low disability rating, Berry Law can help you appeal. Berry Law is a team full of Veterans, with attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Our goal is to help all fellow Veterans get the disability benefits they deserve. Contact Berry Law today if you need assistance appealing your VA decision.