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Never Properly Diagnosed By The Usn Nor The Va

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I'll try to keep this short but it is a rather long explanation I need help with. I was in the USN from Jan 88 to July 89, the last year spent on limited duty for severe knee and hip pain. In that one year, the Navy never properly diagosed the problem, calling it polyarthralgia. They never found the problem because they didn't do anything to find the problem besides a bone scan. For a year, once a month, I'd go back and see my doctor. He'd ask if there were any improvements and I'd tell him no; how would there be any improvement, they hadn't done anything. At the end of 11 months I was sent to see a civilian doctor that basically told me that I had to live with it and go back to sea or accept a medical discharge. He also told me I was sent to him because he could tell me things the military doctors couldn't; most people that wanted to get out of the service could complain of knee pain as it is hard to diagnose. I had been selected for E5 after only 2 1/2 years in the Navy. I could have made CPO before 10. I was a submariner, qualified for all watch stations and was about to take my walk through to get my dolphins before going on limited duty. Why would I want to get out? Without some help with it though, I had no choice but to leave the Navy.

After getting out the knee and hip pain got much worse. I went to the Navy hospital in Charleston SC and saw a VA doctor. He never did an examination. He reviewed my medical record and basically told me I was a liar and shouldn't even have gotten a 10% SC disability from the Navy. He also gave me a prescription for the anti inflammatory med that got me put on limited duty in the first place. Since I couldn't take the stuff, and quite pissed off, I didn't even get it filled. After that I just had to learn to live with the pain as it was apparent nobody was going to help me.

Fast forward to 2007, I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in my neck and between the arthritis and so called poly-arthralgia, I ended up losing 2 jobs in less than six months because of the pain. Without an income and in a lot of pain, I ended up living with my sister so I could get some help with the problem at the VA center in Nashville. I was able to get the arthritis somewhat under control and was assigned to a primary care physician in Nashville as well. I've filed two different claims for an increase in my SC disability as I felt like the neck pain was related to the knee and hip pain. After about a million different x-rays of knees hips and neck, they declined both claims saying there was no proof of any worsening of the condition. My primary care physician tried multiple different anti-inflammatories; none of them relieved the knee and hip pain and did little for the pain for the arthritis. He switched me from Ibuprofen to Miloxicam as my blood pressure was high enough to cause worry for him. Two weeks after I started to take the Miloxicam, my blood pressure was so high I burst a blood vessel in my nose and ended up in the ER to get the bleeding stopped. I was then pulled off all NSAID's and upgraded to a narcotic. It's difficult to take a combination of Hydrocodone and Flexiril and function at a job. I could take it at night before bed but that didn't solve any pain problems while trying to work. I gave up on the primary care physician and all of his drugs and went back to the old plan of just trying to live with it. I actually felt better getting off all the meds. None of them were ever effective for the knee and hip pain anyway.

Fast foward to the present, I was turned down once again as I filed another claim to add my neck arthritis as a second disability. That claim was shot down as well, so I contacted my local senators office. They are assisting me to file another claim but told me I need some medical proof for a correct diagnosis. I'm seeing a doctor now that has been making some great progress towards a diagnosis. She prescribed Gabapentin as a diagnostic medication and the knee and hip pain is virtually non-existant after taking the very first one proving the problem is neurological and that we will have to do an MRI to figure out exactly what the problem is. Paying for one is going to put a hurtin' on my pocket book but will do so for an actual diagnosis.

My question, sorry this is so long, is why the Navy never tried to properly diagnose this after a year on limited duty and why the VA chose to take the same path for over six years now? After God knows how many trips to Nashville, 240 mile round trip, uncounted x-rays of my knees and hips that never showed anythiing, why didn't they take a different path to figure this out? None of the medications did much of anything besides make me sleepy and couldn't be taken and still function at a workplace.

Second question, with a proper diagnosis, what path do I need to take to make sure the diagnosis would rule it SC? I never had any kind of pain like that till I joined the Navy. Can the poly-arthralgia be considered as a mis-diagnosis or will it be ruled there was never a diagnosis at all? I've had to live in pain for 25 years because of a very vauge diagnosis that isn't on the rating schedule. It always seemed like that's the way the VA wanted to keep it instead of coming up with something that properly represented the problem. I'm paying out of pocket to see this doctor; have no insurance (can't afford it) so I'm looking for the proper path to present the evidence to the VA claim to increase my SC disability.

Thanks for advice offered and hope this long first post here doesn't put the moderator to sleep. LOL

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Locate the nearest DAV office and have a representative closest to where you are currently living and ask them to represent you to file a proper claim for service related compensation. You will have to file a claim at your local VARO. The DAV advocate will help you to make sure you fill out all the proper forms for the claim. It is unbelievable that the doctor at your local VA clinic told you that you are a liar. It's not his job to diagnose whether your injury is service related or not. They are there to treat injuries and illnesses for the veterans, not to act as a Compensation/Pension examiner.

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You will need a concrete diagnosis of your problems and a strong independent medical opinion to prove these problems are due to your SC condition.

If the NSAIDS gave you a ratable additional condition ( at least 10% ratable )that you still have, that can be claimed as well under 1151 or as secondary to the NSAIDS.

But VA did stop the NSAIDS so there may be no ratable condition due to them.

IMOs are often very expensive but your private doctor might be able to provide you with one for a minimal charge.

Polyarthralgia is a ratable condition


"we will have to do an MRI to figure out exactly what the problem is. Paying for one is going to put a hurtin' on my pocket book but will do so for an actual diagnosis."

That is the best way to see what this disability is and how it disabled you and hopefully this doctor could prepare a strong IMO..

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Thank you Berta for the information. I've got an appointment with the doctor this Monday to discuss where to go from here. I know she will want to do an MRI, we just want to make sure we MRI the right part of the spine to get this figured out. The only real damage to my spine is in my lower neck, the VA has done an MRI of it but that's about as far as it went. I was wrong when I stated that polyarthralgia was not on the rating sechedule. It is at the 10% rating I'm at right now. It is a very vauge diagnosis; simply means pain in one or more joints in the body. I should have explained that in my original post. That's the diagnosis they want to stick with to not raise my rating by not finding the true cause of the problem. As far as the cost of seeing this doctor; it's actually been very affordable so far but the MRI will be at another facility. It's not overly expensive, $800, but it will still put a dent in the budget. Thank you as well Benanna for your comments. I've actually got the support of my local senators office helping me when I've got the medical info to file my next claim. I approached the DAV here in KY to file an appeal a few years back. Not to disrespect the DAV whatsoever but the advice from the rep I talked to said the best thing for me to do is to go to the VA ER every time I'm feeling pain which would require a daily 240 mile round trip to Nashville and to tell them that it was also causing depression. The last thing I wanted to do was end up on another medication. None of the ones they ever gave me ever worked to well; made other conditions worse. The DAV is a fine organization but I really didn't get too much help from them. I'm just kind of amazed that after three visits to this doctor, she found a medication that is having a very positive effect on the pain and 1 year of doctors visits while still in the Navy and over 4 years of visits to the VA neither was able to do anything for it. I feel cheated in a way as it cost me a career in the Navy, was basically thrown out to have to live with the pain for the last 25 years and am pretty sure they refuse to properly diagnose this problem as a cost cutting measure. Thanks again to both of you for your responses. Will keep this updated as it progresses.

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