There are many veterans that have uncomfortable sensations in their legs that are only relieved with frequent movement. Some struggle to fall asleep because their symptoms worsen at night. These all may be signs that these veterans have restless leg syndrome.
Restless leg syndrome affects approximately one in 10 adults in the United States. RLS is also characterized as a sleep disorder because of the way the urgent need to move one’s legs disrupts your sleep. If you suspect that you may have RLS, talk to your family doctor or VA clinic as soon as possible to try to rectify it.
Your treatments may be as simple as lifestyle changes or taking supplements every day. If you’re a veteran experiencing symptoms that severely impact your daily life, you may even be able to receive benefits.
In This Article about Restless Leg Syndrome and PTSD:
- The VA Rating for Restless Leg Syndrome
- Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
- Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome
- PTSD and Restless Leg Syndrome
- Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
- What is a VA Disability Rating?
- VASRD Principles
- Our Free Veterans Disability Calculator
- The VA Disability Chart
- Other Common Sleep Disorders
- Receiving the VA Benefits You Need
The VA Rating for Restless Leg Syndrome
The rating you receive for your restless leg syndrome depends on the severity of your symptoms:
- Severe – 60%
- Moderately Severe – 40%
- Moderate – 20%
- Mild – 10%
Restless leg syndrome is complicated because there’s no definitive medical test for it. Instead, a physician will need to examine you and see how your symptoms match up with the recognized symptoms for RLS.
Restless leg syndrome is considered severe if it’s seriously limiting your body’s ability to function. You’ll be experiencing muscle atrophy, a loss of sensation, and a loss of reflexes.
A moderately severe rating means you’re not experiencing muscle atrophy. Moderate means you’re experiencing one or more of the main symptoms, and they’re significantly interfering with your body’s ability to function.
Remember that even if your condition isn’t severe, every service-connected condition a veteran has can be rated. Age is never considered when a condition is being rated. There’s also the understanding that conditions can change or worsen, and conditions can be re-evaluated for an accurate rating and the right benefits.
Of course, if you don’t agree with the rating you receive, you also have the option of appealing the VA Rating decision.
Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
How do you know how severe your RLS is? Here are some symptoms you may be experiencing. According to the International Restless Leg Syndrome Study Group, in order to be diagnosed with restless leg syndrome, all of these criteria must be met:
- You usually, but not always, feel the need to move your legs because of unpleasant sensations.
- During periods of rest or inactivity, the urge to move your legs increases.
- The unpleasant sensations you feel are relieved by moving your legs.
- You find that the urge to move your legs and the unpleasant sensations only occur at night, or the sensations and urge are worse at night compared to the day.
- The occurrence of these symptoms isn’t solely because of another medical or behavioral condition like leg cramps, positional discomfort, leg edema, and more.
Your symptoms don’t need to occur every day or every night in order for you to be diagnosed with RLS. Sometimes people will go into remission for weeks or months before symptoms return again. People with RLS also often experience sleep disturbances and are sleepy and fatigued during the day.
You may also experience periodic limb movement disorder, which can happen either while you’re awake or asleep. This is an involuntarily and repetitive jerk of your limb.
One of our VA Disability lawyers talks about the VA rating for sleep apnea, which combined with RLS, would ruin a good night’s sleep.
Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome
Once you’ve received your diagnosis from a physician, it’s important you talk about what could be the causes of your condition in order to receive proper treatment. Unfortunately, in most cases the causes are unknown.
However, your restless leg syndrome could be related to underlying conditions such as:
- Iron deficiency
- End-stage renal disease and hemodialysis
- Antinausea drugs
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Antidepressants that increase serotonin
- Cold and allergy drugs with older antihistamines
- Alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine
- Nerve damage
- Dysfunction in part of the brain that controls movement
PTSD and Restless Leg Syndrome
Another cause of restless leg syndrome could be PTSD. PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. As the name describes, it occurs in people who’ve witnessed or experienced a traumatic event such as:
- Natural disasters
- Serious accidents
- War and combat
- Terrorist acts
- Rape (or other Military Sexual Trauma)
- Violent personal assault
Symptoms of PTSD can vary in severity. People can experience intrusive thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks of the event in vivid detail. They have negative thoughts and feelings because of the event and the trauma they experience, such as strong feelings of fear, horror, guilt, and shame.
These feelings cause people who are experiencing PTSD to avoid reminders of the event, whether that be certain people, places, objects, and more. They’ll also experience reactive symptoms such as outbursts of anger, irritability, being easily startled, and having difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
One of our VA Disability lawyers talks about how Gulf War Syndrome can affect young and old vets.
Along with these symptoms, people can also experience restless leg syndrome as a symptom as part of PTSD. In a 2018 study by the Journal of Trauma & Treatment, seven participants out of 31 male military veterans were suffering from RLS along with PTSD.
This means that it’s highly recommended that all veterans with PTSD that are also struggling with sleep should be evaluated for RLS. If veterans are experiencing insomnia, movements during sleep, nightmares, and tiredness during the day, then a diagnosis of RLS may help speed up treatment and relieve these symptoms.
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Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, as RLS is usually considered a lifelong condition with no cure. However, treatments can help relieve the symptoms of RLS and help the veterans gain the ability to receive a full night’s sleep again.
As you can see, determining if your restless leg syndrome is being caused by any of the above will greatly help determine the kind of treatment you receive. For instance, if you’re tested for iron deficiency, taking iron supplements could help lessen the symptoms you experience.
You may find that lifestyle changes such as smoking and drinking less, exercising, and taking warm baths will help, especially during the evening if your symptoms worsen. Certain medications you’re taking now may also be causing your RLS and by adjusting those medications, your symptoms could improve.
What is a VA Disability Rating?
Before you look into whether you may have restless leg syndrome or not, it helps to know what a VA Disability Rating is and how this rating can affect your benefits. Simply put, the Disability Rating is a percentage from zero to 100 that describes how severe a condition is.
For instance, a Disability Rating of zero percent means that while the condition is still there, it doesn’t impact the veteran’s life in any negative way. Conversely, a rating of 100% means that the condition severely affects veterans’ daily lives and greatly impedes their ability to take care of themselves and work.
Once veterans have all of their conditions rated, these ratings are combined with VA Math in order to receive an accurate Total Combined VA Disability Rating. This rating determines how much money a veteran receives. If the benefits should have started years ago, you will also be entitled to your backpay in a single check.
Ratings are rounded off to the nearest 10. They’re decided by the Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD). The VASRD was created by Congress in order to have a fair system to rate disabilities.
Each condition is assigned a four-digit code, and they’re also divided into several categories, such as:
- Sensory organs
In the case of more complicated conditions, the VASRD Principles are applied in order to keep the rating system as fair as possible. In general, the ratings strive to accurately reflect how difficult a veteran’s life is because of their conditions. If they’re having more difficulty than they should naturally receive more benefits.
You’ll want to remember that you’ll need to give the Rating Authorities all the material they need in order to accurately determine your case. This means submitting all your medical reports. If you have multiple medical reports on a single condition from different providers, the Rating Authorities will go with the report of the most qualified medical provider.
Rating Authorities will also use reasonable doubt when evaluating your case. If your condition isn’t well-documented and they’re having trouble judging its severity, they’re required to go with the higher rating. They understand that specialists and doctors who have a greater understanding of the condition are telling the truth in their medical reports.
Of course, if they feel that they don’t have enough information, they’ll request additional data before they make a decision.
Our Free Veterans Disability Calculator
You should use a Veterans Disability Calculator in order to approximate how much you’ll receive per month depending on your Disability Rating. In order to use the calculator properly, you’ll need to already know your Disability Rating for each of your conditions.
Click the button that matches your rating. If you have more than one condition of the same rating on the same body part, then click the button twice. Disabilities that don’t coincide with your arms or legs would go under “Additional Disabilities.”
The VA Disability Chart
Once you receive your Total Combined VA Disability Rating, you’ll receive a monthly, non-taxable payment depending on your percentage. The amount received for each rating that goes up by 10 is the same for everyone.
However, the amount can change if your spouse needs regular aid because of a medical condition. It can also increase depending on the number of dependents you have and their ages. For instance, you’ll receive more money if you have dependents under the age of 18 compared with if they are age 18 to 23 and going to college.
An experienced VA disability compensation lawyer can assist you in understanding this complex chart and figuring out how to apply it to your situation.
Other Common Sleep Disorders
Along with restless leg syndrome, you may also be experiencing other sleep disorders that are leaving you fatigued during the day. These can be:
- Insomnia – Difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Sleep Apnea – Pauses in breathing that occurs during sleep
- Circadian Rhythm Disorders – Your natural sleep-wake cycle is disrupted
- Nightmares – Can cause wakefulness or fear of falling asleep
- Depression – Can become linked to insomnia and cause wakefulness
- Substance Use – The abuse of substances to help with sleep can contribute to insomnia
Although it may seem daunting to speak with a physician about any of these issues if you haven’t done so before, you’ll be able to find the treatment you need in order to feel like yourself again and increase your quality of life.
Receiving the VA Benefits You Need
Now that you know about the VA rating for restless leg syndrome, the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, and its link to PTSD, you’ll be better equipped to apply for VA benefits.
The system isn’t easy to navigate if you haven’t done it before. But if you’re suffering from a service-connected medical condition, you deserve to have your condition evaluated to see if you’re eligible for the benefits you deserve. With this newfound knowledge, you’ll be able to be your own medical advocate.
Woods & Woods is a family-owned law firm that was founded in 1985 to fight for injured and disabled people. Through reliable case-management systems, they ensure that each of their clients’ cases gets the personal attention they deserve.
Ready to get the help you deserve to navigate the complicated world of VA benefits? Contact Woods & Woods today and fill out the form to receive a free legal consultation!