I have been researching this for a while and I keep ending up here at HadIt reading old threads. So, now that I am ready to ask questions I have com to you. I appreciate the knowledge I have acquired here already. Thank you all.
My situation is that I was service connected rated 20% for Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD L2-3 and L5-S1) limited mobility as well as 10% each for a shoulder, both knees and PTSD back in 2011. 50% total rating. This was done through the Army/VA program when they told me I couldn't play with them anymore.
Fast forward to last year and I began to have numbness and tingling in my legs from standing for more that 20 minutes at a time. Over the course of the year it shortened to 10 minutes and I was experiencing warm and cold flush sensations in my thighs. In November I had bad sciatic pain and a steroid pack resolved it. Then in January this year it went precipitously downhill. I started having numbness start from my groin to just below my knees after 5 or so minutes. I was down to 5 - 10 minutes of stand or walk time and I started getting wobbly and falling down if I pushed it. I had to stop working in April because I was stumbling and scared that I was going to fall off the ladder I climbed repeatedly throughout the day.
So I have had MRIs and an EMG and fought with doctors and it appears that all the VA is willing to do is give me a shot in the back and leave me crippled. The diagnosis is lumbar radiculopathy. The MRIs show two herniated discs (L4-5 and L5-S1 and a bulging disc above at L3-4) as well as stenosis and multiple moderate and severe nerve impingements at these levels. The EMG shows "electro-diagnostic evidence of L5-S1 radiculopathy.
Given that I apparently need to grab a Snickers while the VA medical side struggles to do medicine, I figure I need to file a claim on the worsening back and the neurological deficits that it is creating. My problem is this: I'm not sure how I should make the new claim and what it should be for, exactly. I contacted the American Legion rep for my county and he basically said he just files paperwork.
I have looked at 4.71a and I get the rating for the spine itself. I'll need to get them to do a measurement for flexion to see if I meet the criteria for that to change. When I go looking for the neurological stuff I get lost. Same goes for the stenosis and arthritis. I can't seem to figure out how they get rated and what I would present from my file to establish the criteria. I have to think the numbness and loss of strength from standing / walking leading to falls have some place in this. If someone can give me some help and guidance I would be eternally grateful.
Then there is the whole how do you write it up so that the paper shuffler who has a couple minutes to go-nogo the packet sees what they need to see. But that is a separate matter for when I have the what figured out, I suppose.
Thank you all again for any help you can provide.