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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims


    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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Alright guys, I am new here, and I am hoping that it will be good to talk to and hear helpful tips from fellow veterans on dealing with the VA hospitals lackluster care.

I'll start by introducing myself a bit, I am a USMC Infantry Combat Veteran, OIF era. I seek care in the VA Boston area. I am rated at 70% service connected, and am currently receiving Individual Unemployability because I had to leave my job due to my issues. I am being treated for PTSD, TBI, Chronic Upper Back Pain, Left knee pain (ACL and MCL tear), and GI issues (possible Ulcers, GERD, IBS etc... tests incoming). I also must say how grateful I am for most of the services offered to veterans.

Alright, so here is my main problem. The chronic upper back pain I spoke of earlier is currently under treated, and not diagnosed. I had sought help from a local Doctor, but had to stop going because I simply could not afford those prices any longer. This is the best I can write out everything, I have been trying to take notes and write everything down since my memory isn't all that good.

The pain: The pain is in my upper back, right side, shoulder area. It can get excruciatingly painful and debilitating. Not sure if it is related or not, but I get a strange 'electric shock' feeling on the back of my neck, right side, where the spine connects to the skull. The pain is definitely made worse by physical activity of any sort, even simply standing for more than 30 minutes can cause it to 'flare up' and driving is another time it acts up. Yard work and chores at my house are incredibly hard to get done without being in pain, and the pain leads to me being in a shitty mood. At it's worst it is a deep pain, like it feels like it is under the bones and such, a 8 or 9 on the stupid pain scale is not uncommon. The skin feels sort of subdued, like it's sort of numb feeling above where the pain is. This has been ongoing for YEARS now. At least 7 years. Documented in my med records since bootcamp.

The tests: The VA doctors have done many tests, XRAY's have been done, and they show nothing wrong. MRI's have been done, and also show nothing abnormal (that would cause that pain at least... cyst was located on Thyroid gland) a CT scan has been done on my head while I was having very bad migraines and it didn't show anything that would cause the back pain. I asked if maybe the Gall Bladder was involved as it can cause pain in that area, the GI specialist said it was doubtful, but in one of my upcoming tests (Ultrasound) he should be able to tell for sure.

"So called treatments": I will now list ALL of the things that either the Doctors have done, or I have done to try and curb the pain, and the results of the treatment.

  1. Physical Therapy. Was required of me when I complained of this issue while still active duty. I did I believe 2 months at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital. It did NOT help me for this problem. I have done PT for my knee before, and that DID help, so I have a good grasp of how it is supposed to work. Currently, my VA Doc has suggested trying it again, I am NOT open to this idea, as A) no help previously, and B) I cannot drive into Boston 3+ times a week for PT sessions.
  2. Menthol 10% cream. No help whatsoever. Was 'prescribed' by my Primary Care.
  3. Lidocaine Patches. Prescribed by Primary Care doc as well. Oddly enough seems to make me notice the pain MORE when I have one on... otherwise nothing.
  4. Nortriptyline 25mg. Prescribed by my local Neurologist doc when I could afford to see her. Didn't work.
  5. Cyclobenzaprine muscle relaxer. Prescribed by VA doctors. Made me too tired to function, and made me felt weird. Didn't help with the pain either, but did help with getting to sleep.
  6. Naproxen tabs. Both prescription ones and OTC, zero help. Told to discontinue due to possible Ulcers.
  7. Acetominophen 500mg. No help. Told to stop taking them by PC due to possible Ulcers.
  8. Oxycodone 10mg Acetominophen 325mg. Prescribed by local Neurologist. ONLY thing that has helped at all thus far. Was only given 1 bottle (40) before I stopped seeing that Neurologist, she stopped seeing me as a patient because she "doesn't know what's wrong with me, but it doesn't appear to be anything that she can help with" gave me the 1 bottle and said she hopes it helps and for me to go back to my Primary Care. Didn't fully cover pain, definitely took the edge off though and made me able to function.
  9. Ice and Heat. Feels ok while icing/heating but doesn't relieve the pain and the effects don't last.

The 'diagnosis': As of now, no diagnosis. Things that the Doctors have mentioned... Muscle Strain, A sprain, Muscle spasm, scoliosis (false)

Things that I have mentioned that they dismiss: Lyme Disease, Gall Bladder Issues, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Ruptured Disc, Spinal Stenosis.

Current course of treatment: Pain Clinic said they will give me 'trigger point injections' and I am completely uninterested in that, A) they have no idea whats even wrong so I don't see how injecting something will work, B) I have family members with back issues (ruptured discs) who have had this treatment and they said it was NOT WORTH IT at ALL. But that is about it. They said they will NOT give me medication for it, first thing they said in fact, then said injections or nothing pretty much.

What do I WANT: I'd love to know what the main problem really is, but until that can be established I want PAIN RELIEF. this is INSANE that I have to live like this for no reason. I don't want to seem like a drug seeker, but HOLY HELL it's the only thing that has helped me out at all, and realistically I don't think I would have hatched a plan 7 years ago to constantly complain about the same pain to get drugs?? Is there something special I have to say to them to get treatment? Do they just NOT prescribe pain medication now? I know it is an issue in this country, but it's xxxxxxx insane that I just on my own dealing with this pain thats ruining my life. It's just not fair that I got to see how that 1 month of life went while I had a prescription, adn then that was it, now I'm back to nothing. It's literally driving me crazy. I don't even want a ton pills or anything!!! Just enough so that I can get stuff done around my house, and spend time with my girlfriend and family without being a raging jerk to everyone due to being in pain. I don't want to get addicted to them either, I understand that can happen, which is why I spread out that 1 prescription I did have. Even typing this out, they have me brainwashed to feel like a junkie by wanting medication for my problems.


Anyways, that did feel good to get off my chest... I really look forward to getting some feedback, or help, or ANYTHING. But even just venting was ok... I'm sure my Girlfriend is very tired of hearing me bitch about it all the time... ha ha ha.

Semper Fi.


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For a short time new members have to have their posts approved. You should get ptomoted fairly soon and will be able to post in real time. Had to do this cause it cuts down on spammers and also people who like to harrass Veterans. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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Thank you, I understand that safeguards need to be in place to keep out the riff raff.

Look forward to being a full member.

Can I not modify my profile until then?

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I feel your pain and I mean it. I went about ten years with pain in upper traps and shoulder. It drove me wild. I could not get good DX for it until recently. Doctors now think it is herniated disc and stenosis in my neck that causes referred pain. The treatment is an operation but they cannot promise it will cure the pain. I have good ROM but reflexes in my left arm are pretty dead. If you can find a doctor in or out of the VA who has the same problem you do then you might get some decent pain relief. I still suffer but get fentynal which helps some.


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Thank you, I understand that safeguards need to be in place to keep out the riff raff.

Look forward to being a full member.

Can I not modify my profile until then?


Your membership has been advanced to provide more posting options.

BTW - when it comes to pain - I don't think we will ever find a solution

that will last all the time, whether it be RX's, therapy, heat/ice, etc . .

Pain needs continuous treatment to keep at bay the best we can.


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