Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 600,000 nerve injuries, and according to a 2019 Veterans Benefits report, nearly 2 million veterans are service-connected for nerve damage conditions. The most common of these are peripheral neuropathy, radiculopathy, and sciatica.
If you’re a veteran and believe you have nerve damage that can be connected to your time in the military, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Understanding Nerve Damage
Because nerves transmit signals, messages, and data to and from your brain through all parts of your body, they play a critical role in your ability to move, feel pain, breathe, and digest food. There are many signs of nerve damage, but some common signs include weakness, difficulty controlling muscle movement, pain down the back of your leg, clumsiness and/or falling more often, and brief, intense headaches.
Nerve damage can occur in a variety of ways, including:
- Injuries. Falls and car accidents are common ways nerves can be crushed, cut, or stretched.
- Disease. Many medical conditions can cause nerve damage, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers.
- Pressure. Nerves can be compressed or pinched due to overuse, tumors, or a herniated disk. This pressure cuts off the blood to the nerve, so it can’t function properly.
- Exposure to toxic substances. Nerve damage can be caused by chemotherapy drugs, excessive alcohol use, and exposure to toxic chemicals.
- Stroke. When the blood vessels in your brain are blocked, or they burst, part of the brain dies because it doesn’t have enough blood. Thus, it can no longer send messages through the nervous system.
Veterans and Nerve Damage
In a report by the Pew Research Center, one out of every ten living veterans was seriously injured during their time in the military, and 75% were injured during combat. Many soldiers are involved in accidents or physical trauma that can cause nerve damage. But some of the most common causes of nerve damage in veterans are diabetes, alcoholism, and exposure to Agent Orange.
While veterans may suffer from various nerve damage conditions from mild to severe, the three most common are:
- Peripheral neuropathy. This nerve condition presents as pain, numbness, weakness, and/or a feeling of pins and needles in the extremities, especially in the hands and feet. When you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, nerve signals are disrupted and can be lost, distorted, or inaccurate.
- Radiculopathy. Also known as a pinched or compressed nerve in the spine, radiculopathy can cause tingling, weakness, pain, and numbness.
- Sciatica. This nerve condition (paralysis of the sciatic nerve) is the seventh-most common disability in veterans. It usually affects only one side of your body and creates pain that spreads from your lower back to your hip, buttocks, and down one leg. It’s often caused when a herniated disk or bone spur presses on the nerve.
Obtaining VA Disability for Nerve Damage Conditions
Veterans are eligible for VA disability benefits if they can service-connect their nerve damage to their time in the military. They can make this connection in various ways, but the most common is as a secondary connection, especially if the veteran also suffers from diabetes or another medical issue recognized as a disability by the VA. Particularly, if you were exposed to Agent Orange during your military service or suffered some type of physical trauma, you may qualify for VA disability for nerve damage.
Contact Cuddigan Law
If you are seeking VA disability benefits for nerve damage or your benefits claim has been denied, contact the legal team at Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help document your symptoms with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your condition is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.