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rk4435

Is My Back Rated Correctly?

Question

I was rated 10% for a lumbar strain 9-10 years ago.  About three years ago the rating was increased to 20% with a secondary rating of 10% for radiculopothy.  I've was relatively successful in reducing serious flare ups by being careful not to do anything too strenuous.  In the last couple of years it has become more debilitating and the flare ups are longer in duration and happen without anything necessarily causing it. 

I finally went in to seek help from a specialist.  My MRI shows advanced Degenerative Disc Disease, protusions (blown discs) and stenosis.  I'm in physical therapy, which helps for a couple of days.  After that the surgeon said we would try injections, and ultimately he said that if I can't get to an acceptable pain level I will ultimately need surgery.  He said it's more of a "when" rather than "if" thing for surgery, and he also said it will be a major operation that will require some fusions.  Needless to say I don't want that happening anytime soon.

My question:  I'm rated for a lumbar strain, should I appeal to the VA for a more proper coding or is that a waste of time?  I've been told that a "Lumbar Strain" rating is considered to be a temporary thing. 

Thanks in advance for any advise.

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rk4435,

Sorry to hear about that, sounds quite painful. The main way you get rated for back is ROM, range of motion. Do not move past the point of initial pain. The will rate you on how far you go, if you go past the point of pain, you get rated based on that.

I'm 40%, because my forward flexion is less than 20 degrees, or 15, can't remember.  I felt like I was going to fall on my head, so I stopped at that point. 

I say file for another increase, and submit copies of the exams you mentioned.  Not sure if you get rated separately for the DDD, but the radiculopathy is a separate rating.  The VA rates the most severe issue per body part. The spine and discs are one, I believe, but the nerves are separate from that.

I, myself, and slogging through issues with my C-spine, and it's like free climbing up a reverse overhang....nearly impossible. 

Semper Fi

 

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Thanks Andyman73.  I guess I should submit the MRI and see what happens.  I'm terrified that they will somehow lower my rating despite the condition becoming worse.  I've heard many horror stories. 

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From what I've learned, rk4435, is that the horror stories, while true, most of them, are about 1 in 20.  Shoot, my own twin bro has his own horror story. But for the most of us, it's just the simple denial of obvious claims.  I wasted 15 years simply because of the ol' "don't rock the boat, cuz you'll get downgraded" urban legend.

Yes, it is quite scary facing that possibility, fortunately there are checks and balances that allow us a brief interlude to try to stave off the reduction, if it's coming at us.  But the old adage is true, you can't get the increase or original award if you don't apply for it. Like the lottery if you don't play, you don't win.

Semper Fi

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 rk4435,

            I, like Andyman have a bad back also and what he says is true.  Let them know if it's getting worse and show them the money (evidence) so to speak!!!  I'm rated as 20% for my back and i have 6 herniated disks from l-5 s-1 to c-12 and climbing so i feel that i'm being underrated also.  But remember what Andyman said ROM is the deciding factor in back issues not how many disks you have blown out or the pain that your in.  The back is one of the most underrated areas of the body because it does the most work other than the brain!!  So keep asking because the squeaky wheel gets the most grease!! 

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On 5/7/2016 at 1:24 PM, rk4435 said:

Thanks Andyman73.  I guess I should submit the MRI and see what happens.  I'm terrified that they will somehow lower my rating despite the condition becoming worse.  I've heard many horror stories. 

i am 40 percent for my back. my last lumbar mri done 2 years ago, shows 5 herniated discs, a slipped vertabra, an abnormal lordatic curve, spinal and foraminal stenosis, 2 torn discs and much arthritis!!

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