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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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Rodney Horn

Back/Cervical Pain - Bulging Disc


I have a C&P coming up in October for Neck/Back pains. While in Iraq in 2004, I fell off of a 916 semi-truck and have buddy statements to verify this. I also have medical proof that I went to the TMC in theater and it was considered a "sprain" and was given light duty for a few days. In my medical records from the field hospital in Iraq, it states that this the back injury is service connected. When I returned home in 2005, I went to the VA and had MRI's done that confirmed I had a bulging disc going away from my spine. Since 2005, I have dealt with varying levels and range of motion and pain. My family doctor wrote a Stressor statement for me that he has been treating me for a Bulging Disc and believes that is it Service Connected. My Family Doctor is also a DR in the Army Reserves. My concern is that I have constant lower back pain due to the bulging disc, but if forced to try and ignore the pain, my ROM may appear to be better than it is, especially if PAIN is considered a much less gauge when testing for SC back problems.

I have read on many forums that ROM is the main test used to determine a SC rating, but if that range is done in PAIN, will they take that into consideration. I do not want to do anything that would seem shady or lying, I simply want what is owed to me for my service and the injuries I incurred while in theater. Should I state that I have constant lower back pain in varying levels of pain when testing my ROM? I'm concerned after reading many post that pain is not the primary assessment tool used but rather ROM. If your able to move your neck and back but am always in pain, what's that say? Should I stop when the pain occurs?

Thank you,

Edited by Rodney Horn

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I can only speak as a licensed massage therapist, but, I've witnessed ROM exams before. Usually common sense, which I know is not very common, should prevail. But you should inform anybody testing or touching you before they touch you about your injury and request that they DO NOT HURT YOU. Do this without drama, its a fairly reasonable request.

A good tester should ask when is the pain felt? and to what degree of pain?  Like you said, just be honest - don't exagerate, and do not understate your pain either. Usually they will try to find first pain range and take you to a reasonable limit - but it will be both of your jobs to keep communicating. You should not be brought to severe pain. So, yes, your pain indication is taken into account during ROM testing. But so is the credability of your response -- the examiner will also evaluate if your embellishing or exaggerating. Just be honest. Real Simple.

Generally, there are 2 types of ROM tests. Passive: When they move your limbs and Active, where they test your own ability to move. Either way. Tell them when it hurts. No drama. Here is a great clip to see if your faking, they very well may do this on you.

Regarding your family doctor statements. He needs to use different language than just "believes" its service connected.

VA requires more than "belief." Terms such as "more likely than not" and he should state the actual injury as the event. Use the dates of injury. Also, having disc bulges are not in and of itself a nexus as many people have bulges without pain. Back pain science is very much in disagreement. So the MRI in 2005 doesn't prove the bulge was caused by your injury - only you have a disc bulge. And please, I do understand your situation. The best documentation for you will be to have a specialist, such as an Orthopedic Dr, state your current condition, your pain, your physical (and even mental) limitations and also state that you incurred the injury (just as you mentioned it) and he opines this injury  is "more likely than not" causing your disability.

Hell - he might write its definitely causing it. But not necessary.

I'm sure the rest of the message board gives all the legal jargon pretty much the same.

Best of luck,



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I had my C&P exam yesterday for Musculoskeletal - Neck/Upper Back (Cervical Spine) and Cervical Radiculopathy (Both Sides). I will post the results when I find them. He did both tests as Mikey explained...passive and slide rule. Like you, I have constant pain and I explained that to the doctor. During a normal day, when someone speaks to me from the side, I will turn my head some and use my body for the rest of the motion. That is the stopping point that I used for the test. My integrity is intact. BTW, do not take medication that day, if you can function without it.

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ROM considers pain involved. Stop moving when it hurts is what I was told.

They gave me a 20% rating because my disc bulged out the front/right 35 years ago and it went untreated for 35 years. By then I had scoliosis in both lumbar and thoracic, and the curve caused a deformity in my Cervical. After 4 level fusion, they gave me 40% because flexion is 10degrees. That is permanent, its a pain to pick up anything off the ground.

ROM is the only way they rate spine anymore, bed rest was stopped in the 90s because it doesnt help, and makes it worse most of the time. The C&P should be backed up with MRI and XRAY imaging. The ROM they work from is forward flexion. Dont hold on to anything when you bend forward, stop when it begins to cause pain. This is where you should be rated at. 

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Yes, ROM was the term the Dr. used.

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Thank you all for the responses, I will try my best to give an update once I hear from the VA..I have one more test to be done this coming week,(nothing to do with Back/Spine) but it is from QTC and NOT the VA, so not sure how long the process will take to get the paperwork to VA and processed and moved to rater etc...

I think I have shown for my back and neck that my claim is certainly service connected with the paperwork stating I went to the TMC in Iraq and a statement from my Plt Sgt and fellow soldiers who witnessed the fall etc. stating what they saw and my plt sgt stating he had to place me on light duty many times after the accident happened .

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