Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can show up in veterans as leg cramps that seem to come out of nowhere and then fade just as fast. Your legs might swell up for seemingly no reason. Do you have red patches on your legs that feel hot to the touch? That could also be DVT. You may also be entitled to VA disability compensation for your condition.
In this article about varicose vein VA ratings:
- What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
- Symptoms of DVT
- What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
- Some Unavoidable Risk Factors
- Risk Factors You Can Control
- Warning Signs of a Pulmonary Embolism
- Ultrasound Diagnosis of DVT
- Blood Test For Blood Clots
- Venography X-Ray for Blood Clots
- Additional Scans
- Preparing for Your Appointment
- How to Qualify for VA Disability
- VA Disability Rating Schedules
- VA Rating Schedule for DVT
- What to Do If Your Application Is Denied
- Get VA Disability Benefits for DVT
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clotting disorder that usually begins in the legs. A blood clot forms in one of the deep veins there, veins that are responsible for carrying most of the blood in your body. This can cause swelling and pain in your legs, or you may have no symptoms at all.
Certain medical conditions or medications can raise your risk of developing blood clots. Staying still for extended periods of time, such as after a surgery or an accident, can also raise your risk. And the real danger of those clots is not what they might do in your legs – it’s what might happen if they break off and travel to other parts of your body.
Symptoms of DVT
One of the most common signs of DVT is swelling in one of your legs. If both your legs are swollen, you likely have another condition, since it’s unlikely you have blood clots in both legs at the same time. You may also notice a pain in your leg that may feel like a cramp starting in your calf.
You might also notice red or discolored skin on your leg where your blood is having difficulty moving through your veins. Your leg might feel warm or hot to the touch as blood pools there. DVT can also occur with no noticeable symptoms.
What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
There are a wide variety of things that can cause DVT. Anything that prevents your blood from circulating and clotting normally can potentially be a cause. As we mentioned, limited movement over long periods of time can change how your blood flows and increase your risk.
Injury to a vein or surgery may cause your blood to clot more and potentially lead to a clot becoming lodged in one of your deep veins. Certain medications, including oral contraceptives for women, can also cause clots to form. Blood clotting disorders could lead to these clots forming in deep veins.
Some Unavoidable Risk Factors
There are some risk factors for DVT that you may not be able to control for. For instance, if you were born with a blood clotting disorder or if you have a family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism, this could put you at higher risk for DVT. You may also not be able to avoid having surgery, and injuries can put you at greater risk.
When you get pregnant, the veins in your legs see an increase in pressure, which can put you at a higher risk of clots. Some forms of cancer can also increase your clotting risk. And people over the age of 60 and those with heart failure or inflammatory bowel disease can also be at higher risk.
Risk Factors You Can Control
Some risk factors for developing DVT are in your control and this is where your service connection comes in. If you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time, taking breaks to move around every couple of hours can lower your risk factor. Being overweight can increase your risk, so focusing on a healthy lifestyle can help, too.
If you have one or more of the risk factors we’ve already mentioned and you’re on oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, talk to your doctor about if there are other options available to you, since these medications can raise your risk factor. Smoking is a huge risk factor for DVT, so quit if you can.
The most serious complication associated with DVT is pulmonary embolism. This occurs when a blood clot travels into your lungs and blocks a blood vessel there. This blocks blood flow to the lungs, which can be life-threatening.
DVT can also lead to post-phlebitic syndrome, also called post-thrombotic syndrome. The blood clot being stuck in your veins causes damage to them, which can lead to persistent symptoms. You may experience a persistent swelling in your legs known as edema, leg pain, skin discoloration, or even skin sores.
Knee pain can also warrant a VA disability rating depending on the effects and causes. Here one of our VA disability lawyers explains knee pain benefits for veterans.
Warning Signs of a Pulmonary Embolism
If you know you are at risk for DVT and you start showing symptoms of pulmonary embolism, seek medical attention immediately. Left untreated, about one-third of people with pulmonary embolism die. If you seek immediate medical treatment, your odds of survival increase dramatically.
One of the first symptoms you may notice is sudden shortness of breath that gets worse with exertion. You might experience sharp chest pain when you breathe in deeply, cough, bend down, or stoop. You might develop a persistent cough or even start coughing up blood.
Ultrasound Diagnosis of DVT
When you go in for an appointment with your doctor to talk about DVT, there are several exams they may perform. They’ll begin with a physical exam to check for areas of swelling, tenderness, or discoloration. They may also order several scans, including an ultrasound.
An ultrasound works by sending sound waves into your body from a wand-like device. Those waves travel through your tissues and reflect back into the wand, which translates those signals into an image on a computer screen. Your doctor may be able to spot a clot on that ultrasound.
Blood Test For Blood Clots
Your doctor may also wish to perform a blood test to determine if you have a clot and how severe it is if so. Almost all people who develop DVT have a high blood level of a substance called D-dimer. A blood test will show if your D-dimer levels are within the normal range.
Your doctor will likely draw your blood in the office on the day of your appointment. A nurse will sterilize your arm and then draw off several small vials of blood. You should receive your blood test results back within a week or two.
The trick with D-Dimer levels is that they can also be affected by anxiety. If you struggle with PTSD or anxiety, you may also have D-Dimer levels above what is considered normal.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about VA unemployability and PTSD symptoms for Veterans.
Venography X-Ray for Blood Clots
Depending on the results of your blood test or ultrasound, your doctor may want to run a venography test. This is usually only ordered if less invasive procedures have failed. But this test is very effective at identifying clots or any other issues with your circulatory system.
During a venography test, a nurse or technician will inject a special dye into a large vein in your foot or ankle. They will then perform an X-ray on your legs and feet. The dye will show up on the X-ray, allowing your doctor to see any clots that may be present in the area.
CT and MRI scans are additional options for your doctor to get a look at your veins and see any clots. A computerized tomography scan uses X-ray scans taken from different angles around your body and then splices these together to form a 3D image. Not only can this help your doctor find clots that may be hidden at certain angles, but it can also show them the specific location, size, and severity of the clot.
A magnetic resonance imaging scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body. The magnetic field in the machine temporarily realigns the water molecules in your body, and the radio waves cause them to give off faint signals that can produce images that your doctor can examine. If you have any sort of metal implant, this test is not a viable option for you.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Once you get your appointment scheduled, there are several things you can do to prepare for it. First of all, make a list of any unusual symptoms you’ve been having, whether or not they seem related to your DVT. It can be easy to forget some symptoms when you’re sitting in your doctor’s office, so make plenty of notes ahead of time.
It’s also a good idea to write down a complete personal and family medical history. Be sure to include notes about any family or personal history of blood clotting, any records of surgery or hospitalizations in the last three months, and any travel history in the last three months. Also bring a list of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you currently take.
Here are some tips on your C&P Exam from a veterans disability lawyer that looks over these cases every day.
How to Qualify for VA Disability
Once you get a diagnosis of DVT, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. There are three primary requirements to get this compensation. The first of these is to have a diagnosis from a VA-approved physician.
You’re also going to need to be able to show proof of a specific incident in your service record that could have caused your condition. In the case of DVT, this could include an injury or surgery, frequent long flights, or even certain imprisonment scenarios. You’ll need to be able to show a medical nexus between the event in your service record and your current condition.
VA Disability Rating Schedules
Once you get approved for VA disability compensation, you’ll receive a specific rating schedule for your condition. The VA uses a system of percentages that reflect how much your condition impacts your ability to lead a normal, productive life. You’ll receive a different amount of money tax-free each month depending on what your rating is.
If you receive a 10 percent rating, for instance, you’ll receive $152.64 every month from the VA. The VA will also consider whether you have other dependents relying on you when they’re determining your compensation level. If you have a 100 percent disability rating and several dependents, you may be eligible to receive at least $3,332.06 per month.
VA Rating Schedule for DVT
In order to simplify their rating schedules, the VA sometimes rates certain diseases and conditions in with similar conditions. In the case of DVT, it’s rated on the same schedule as varicose veins and post-phlebitic syndrome, both of which are other vein and artery conditions.
If you have so much swelling in your legs that they are stiff and you’re in constant pain, you can receive up to a 100 percent disability rating. If you have persistent swelling or a hardened bump under the skin, skin discoloration or itchy rashes, and an open skin wound that won’t heal, you’ll get a rating of 60 percent. If you have all of the above, but no open skin wound, you’ll get a rating of 40 percent.
If you have persistent swelling but no discoloration or rash symptoms, you’ll get a disability rating of 20 percent. And if you have only occasional swelling, you’ll be eligible for a 10 percent disability rating.
Our VA disability lawyer team works with VA Math every day. Here is a video explaining how it works and how to use our VA Disability Calculator.
What to Do If Your Application Is Denied
In some cases, your VA disability application may be denied. Don’t worry if this happens; you still have plenty of opportunities to appeal your case.
The first thing you should do if your disability claim is denied is to hire a lawyer who specializes in veteran disability compensation. They will be able to help you navigate the system and get the additional evidence you need to get your claim approved. They may also be able to help you prove eligibility for other conditions that you’re owed compensation for.
VA lawyer Sarah Woods talks about the steps we take in the veterans’ disability appeals process:
Get VA Disability Benefits for DVT
If you believe you may be entitled to VA disability benefits for DVT, call your doctor today. Not only will getting a diagnosis help you avoid dangerous conditions like pulmonary embolism, but it can also be the first step to getting the compensation you deserve.
If you’d like help getting VA disability compensation, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today to get help getting the compensation you’re entitled to.
We are so sorry about your husband. Yes, there are some benefits that are easier to get than others. Contact our office for free to see if you have a case for a DIC claim and we can point you toward other possible benefits.
You should let one of our doctors familiar with VA law look over your file. You can’t ‘pyramid’ va disability ratings, but some veterans have been rated for the wrong conditions and don’t get as much as they should for the real disability they have.