Aches and pains are normal for people as they age, but if you’re a veteran that’s aging too fast because of your service, look into VA disability for your bursitis pain.
Did you know that your body has a built-in cushioning system?
It’s true! You have tiny cushions all over, known as bursa sacs. These fluid-filled sacs are designed to help ease the friction that’s created as you move around. When these sacs become inflamed or irritated, even routine daily movement can irritate your bones, muscles, tendons, and skin.
This condition is known as bursitis. Those affected will feel discomfort in their major joints, including their shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. If you believe your affliction is linked to your military service, it’s important to learn more about VA disability for bursitis.
Today, we’re sharing more about this condition, including its common symptoms and how to trace its root causes. Then, we’ll share how to apply for the VA benefits you deserve.
In this article about veterans with service-connected bursitis:
- What is Bursitis?
- Common Causes of Bursitis
- Risk Factors of Bursitis
- Symptoms of Bursitis
- How to Treat Bursitis
- How Does Severe Bursitis Affect Your Quality of Life?
- VA Disability for Bursitis: The Facts to Know
- VA Ratings for Bursitis
- Bursitis of the Elbow
- Bursitis of the Shoulder
- Ratings For Other Musculoskeletal System Disabilities
- Get Help With Your VA Disability Claim Today
What is Bursitis?
As discussed, bursitis is a condition that occurs when your bursa sacs become inflamed or otherwise irritated and fail to adequately cushion your joints. The adult body contains around 160 bursae, and each one is akin to a water balloon that’s only partially filled with a few drops of water. Wedged strategically between your bones and soft tissues, it’s easy to see how these sacs could become compromised over time.
When this occurs, it results in the onset of bursitis.
This physical condition can be widespread, affecting most of the joints in your body. Or, you might feel concentrated pain in one specific area. For instance, your hips might ache when you twist or you may feel a sharp pain in your knees every time you walk.
Common Causes of Bursitis
It helps to think of the bursa sacs in your body as natural shock absorbers! They can do wonders when they’re functioning and are the primary reason why most people can perform normal activities without any marked discomfort.
However, although they are specially designed to hold up against years of wear and tear, bursae are not indestructible. In fact, if you over-exert yourself, you could create an excessive amount of friction in a given area. In turn, this can cause those sacs to become irritated.
Bursitis is most common in adults over the age of 40. It tends to become more common as you age, due to the number of repetitive movements you perform on a regular basis. In addition to over-exertion, a few of the other common causes behind bursitis include:
- Joint trauma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
All of these conditions can aggravate and inflame your bursa sacs. In addition to friction, you may also experience symptoms of this condition due to simple pressure on your joints.
For instance, you might develop bursitis in your elbow after using a push lawnmower. This is a friction-related condition. At the same time, you could also irritate the bursae over your coccyx bone (tailbone) after sitting in an office chair or car seat for an extended period of time.
If any of these instances occur, you’ll notice the major symptoms almost immediately.
Veterans are getting VA disability compensation for rheumatoid arthritis. One of our experienced lawyers talks about arthritis claims for veterans in this video:
Risk Factors of Bursitis
Certain events can make people more susceptible to developing bursitis than others. While anyone can suffer from the condition, the following factors can elevate your risk:
Bursitis is more common in older adults than younger ones. This is because your joints can wear over time, especially if you live an active lifestyle.
Do you love to paint or play a musical instrument? What about working on your hands and knees in the garden? While enjoyable, these types of hobbies can cause excess stress on your joints.
By nature, there are some occupations that are simply harder on your body than others. This includes jobs that require intricate or repetitive motions, such as construction, lawn care, or being a modern-day soldier loaded with gear.
There are some systemic diseases and conditions that naturally raise your risk of developing bursitis. These include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes, among others. Those suffering from these conditions should take extra precautions to protect their vulnerable joints.
Though it isn’t a rule, obese people place an excessive amount of stress on their hips and knee joints. As such, obesity is considered a risk factor for bursitis.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
Symptoms of Bursitis
How do you know if you’re suffering from bursitis? Normally, you’ll be able to trace the condition back to a recent episode of excessive activity.
For example, you might notice stiffness in your knees after a day of walking around a theme park. Other times, it can be a little more difficult to link your unexplained discomfort to a certain time in the past.
A few of the most common telltale symptoms and signs related to this condition include one or more joints that feel:
- Painful when moved
- Painful when pressed
How to Treat Bursitis
If your condition is short-term and caused primarily by over-exertion, you can usually self-treat bursitis at home. The steps to take include resting the affected joints as well as applying cold or heat therapy as required to relieve inflammation. For severe pain, you can also take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
For mild to moderate cases, it usually takes around one week for bursitis symptoms to ease up and go away completely. However, there are instances in which the condition is more serious. In that case, it’s best to visit your physician as soon as possible.
As you go to the VA, keep a record of your visits and your symptoms. Your bursitis could be a secondary-connected disability along with arthritis, a specific joint injury, or a broken bone. If you fell off a truck and broke your arm, your repeated bursitis could be service-connected.
How Does Severe Bursitis Affect Your Quality of Life?
How can you tell if your bursitis is more significant and severe than simply the aftermath of too much force or friction? The answer lies in how it affects your daily life.
Severe bursitis can lead to debilitating joint pain that can make even minor movements feel incredibly uncomfortable or even impossible. You might also experience a sudden inability to move the affected joint. Other symptoms that can affect your quality of life include:
- Intense swelling or redness
- Bruising, rash or other skin affliction
- Sharp pain when you exercise
VA Disability for Bursitis: The Facts to Know
Are you a veteran or active service member suffering from achy joints that never seem to get better? If so, you may be asking, “Is bursitis a disability?” The answer is simple: Yes, your condition could be eligible for VA benefits if you can link it back to your time in service.
If you believe that repetitive use of your joints during service contributed to bursitis that you’re currently experiencing, you can note that on your application for benefits. In addition, you can also have your physician contribute notes on your condition, along with an expert opinion on where it originated.
VA Ratings for Bursitis
You’ll notice that many VA disability ratings for joint-related conditions focus less on the issue itself and more on how it affects your range of motion (ROM). Bursitis is no different.
The official diagnostic code for bursitis is 5019.
That code is usually hyphenated to describe how the condition is rated. For instance, if your bursitis is attributed to military-related degenerative arthritis, then the code would be 5019-5003.
When determining which disability rating to assign to your case, the VA will analyze the range of motion that you currently have for each of the affected joints. They will do so using a special tool called a goniometer. Next, let’s take a look at the different categories and their associated ratings.
Bursitis of the Elbow
There are two specific diagnostic codes for bursitis of the elbow. If your condition limits how well you can bend your elbow (flexion), then it is rated under 5206. This rating breakdown measures your ability to bend your dominant elbow, as follows:
- 50% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their dominant elbow 45 degrees
- 40% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their non-dominant elbow 45 degrees
- 40% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their dominant elbow 55 degrees
- 30% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their non-dominant elbow 55 degrees
- 30% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their dominant elbow 70 degrees
- 20% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their non-dominant elbow 70 degrees
- 10% Disability rating: Veterans who can bend their dominant or non-dominant elbow 100 degrees
- 0% Disability rating (non-compensable): Veterans who can bend their dominant or non-dominant elbow 110 degrees
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The second diagnostic code reserved for bursitis of the elbow is 5207. This measures a veteran’s ability to extend or straighten their elbow. If this applies to you, the following ratings measure how much your bursitis affects the extension of your dominant elbow:
- 50% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of dominant arm extension to 110 degrees
- 40% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of non-dominant arm extension to 110 degrees
- 40% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of dominant arm extension to 100 degrees
- 30% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of non-dominant arm extension to 100 degrees
- 30% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of dominant arm extension to 90 degrees
- 20% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of non-dominant arm extension to 90 degrees
- 20% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of dominant arm extension to 75 degrees
- 10% Disability rating: Veterans with limitation of non-dominant arm extension to 60 degrees or below
What happens if your bursitis of the elbow is so severe that it impacts both your flexion and extension abilities? In that case, you would file for VA benefits under diagnostic code 5208. If your flexion is limited to 100 degrees or less and your extension to 45 degrees or less, the associated VA rating is 20%.
Bursitis of the Shoulder
The specific diagnostic code for bursitis of the shoulder is 5201. The rating breakdown is as follows:
- 40% Disability rating: Veterans who cannot lift their dominant arm more than 25 degrees
- 30% Disability rating: Veterans who cannot lift their non-dominant arm more than 25 degrees
- 20% Disability rating: Veterans unable to lift their dominant arm halfway between their side and shoulder
- 20% Disability rating: Veterans unable to lift their non-dominant arm halfway between their side and shoulder
- 20% Disability rating: Veterans unable to lift their arm to shoulder level (dominant or non-dominant)
Ratings For Other Musculoskeletal System Disabilities
Of course, bursitis is not limited to your elbows and shoulders. You can also experience it in many other parts of your musculoskeletal system.
When this happens, the VA will again reference your range of motion when determining the appropriate rating to assign. You can find the full law concerning these ratings on this chart.
Note that most of the time, your rating will increase as your range of motion decreases. As such, if you can freely move the affected joint without compromise, your compensable rating will likely be minimal, around 10%. This is the case even if you experience pain upon movement.
To increase your chances of an optimal payout, you can request your physician to note that your condition is more than centralized pain in your joint. This will require evidence that you do feel pain upon motion. If you’re able to demonstrate this discomfort, you can increase your likelihood of a higher rating, as painful motion is a critical factor of joint-related disabilities.
Get Help With Your VA Disability Claim Today
If you believe that your bursitis is directly linked to your time in military service, you don’t have to suffer in silence any longer. You have a right to file a disability claim with the VA and receive compensation to help cover your living expenses and medical costs and put you on the track toward recovery.
Even in the most severe cases, there are procedures and treatments that can help greatly alleviate your symptoms, and you deserve the right to access those services. When you’re ready to learn more about how to pursue VA disability for bursitis, our team is here to help.
We are experienced VA disability lawyers skilled in helping our clients get higher VA disability ratings, appeal their denied claims, and complete initial applications. Contact our team to learn more about how the process works and let’s get started today.
No, that will not slow down your claim at all. The VA measures disability ratings on your symptoms, not the specific diagnosis, so that might help you get even more benefits.
Keep a journal of how often you hurt, what causes your bursitis the most, and what it keeps you from doing. The key to VA disability is to show that it affects your daily life and work. Let’s talk about your case for more details.