What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the peripheral nerve, causing pain, numbness, or weakness. Although it’s most likely to affect the extremities, peripheral neuropathy can affect nerves throughout the body.
Patients may suffer damage to a single peripheral nerve (mononeuropathy) or multiple peripheral nerves throughout the body (polyneuropathy). While potential symptoms of vary depending on which nerves are affected, people with peripheral neuropathy may experience:
- Impaired sensations ranging from numbness and tingling to burning or stabbing pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Muscle cramps or weakness in the affected limbs
- Loss of balance or mobility problems due to affected feet or legs
- Sudden dizziness
- Vision problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensory disturbances
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Impaired tendon reflexes
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bladder incontinence
Is There a Cure for Peripheral Neuropathy?
A variety of treatments may alleviate the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, but there is no known cure. Since Veterans may need lifelong treatment, they must get the financial assistance they need to suppress symptoms and preserve their quality of life.
Treatments for peripheral neuropathy include:
- Painkillers (over-the-counter and prescription-strength)
- Anti-seizure medications (such as gabapentin and pregabalin)
- Antidepressants or mood stabilizers
- Topical analgesic lotions or salves
- Plasma exchanges
- Surgery to relieve pressure on associated nerves
- Physical therapy
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Individuals with diabetes may suffer peripheral neuropathy in combination with decreased circulation and fluctuating blood sugar levels. People diagnosed with certain chronic or autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, may also experience neuropathy symptoms.
Peripheral neuropathy could also be a result of:
- Physical injury, including repetitive stress or sudden trauma
- Prolonged pressure at a single point along the nerve
- Viral or bacterial infections, such as HIV, Lyme disease, hepatitis B or C, or leprosy
- Exposure to harmful organic compounds (such as those in the water at Camp Lejeune)
- Bone marrow disorders
- Vitamin B deficiencies
- Medications, particularly chemotherapy drugs
- Prolonged alcoholism
Do I Qualify for VA Disability Based on Peripheral Neuropathy?
There are several ways to make a successful claim for VA Benefits due to peripheral neuropathy, including:
- Primary Service Connection. To make a primary service connection, you will need to provide VA with a diagnosis from a licensed medical professional, a record of the in-service illness, event, or injury that caused the condition, and a provable medical link (medical nexus) between your in-service event your peripheral neuropathy.
- Presumptive Service Connection. Veterans may qualify for a presumptive service connection for peripheral neuropathy that has received a 10% disability rating within one year from release from active duty (early-onset). Neuropathy could also qualify as a presumptive condition for any Veterans who may have been exposed to herbicides during their military service.
- Vietnam Service Connection. The VA has created a special presumptive service connection for peripheral neuropathy for Veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Certain Vietnam Veterans with service aboard a ship that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam, in Vietnam’s territorial seas between 1962 and 1975, on or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) between 1967 and 1971, or had regular contact with C-123 aircraft between 1969 and 1986 automatically qualify.
- Secondary Service Connection. Secondary service connection is possible when a Veteran’s recognized service-connected disability causes a non-service-connected disability. For example, a Veteran with type II diabetes may obtain additional benefits for diabetic peripheral neuropathy if they have already secured service-connected benefits for their diabetes.
What Is My VA Disability Rating?
The VA disability rating for peripheral neuropathy ranges between 10% (mild) to 40% (complete). Your exact rating will depend on the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
Remember that the maximum rating of 40% can be assigned to every extremity affected by peripheral neuropathy. For example, a Veteran with severe and provable symptoms of neuropathy in both hands may receive a rating of 30% per hand for a total rating of 60% of maximum VA disability benefits for both extremities.
What’s the VA Diagnostic Code for Peripheral Neuropathy?
The VA does not have a dedicated diagnostic code (DC) for peripheral neuropathy. Instead, it can be rated using the diagnostic code of the underlying cause or most closely related condition. As your attorney, we can determine which code to apply to your disability benefits claim based on the recommendation of your medical professional.
You may obtain benefits for peripheral neuropathy under:
- Type II Diabetes (Diagnostic Code 7913)
- Diabetic Retinopathy (Diagnostic Code 6006)
- Paralysis of the Sciatic Nerve (Diagnostic Code 8520)
- Paralysis of the Ilioinguinal Nerve (Diagnostic Code 8530)
- Neuritis (Diagnostic Code 8620)
- Neuralgia (Diagnostic Code 8720)
What if My VA Disability Benefits Were Denied?
The VA Disability process is notoriously complex, and it’s easy for Veterans to make simple mistakes on their forms that can limit the amount of their benefits. Even if your claim for peripheral neuropathy is approved, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
If you are a Veteran and need help applying for VA benefits or appealing a denial, we can help. The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, serves Veterans nationwide who are struggling to get the compensation they need for a service-related disability. Call (877) 629-1712 or use our online contact form to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. You can also learn more about your claim in our free guide, VA Benefits Handbook.