Spinal Cord and Back Injuries

One of the most common types of disabilities that we have seen involves injuries to the lower back. Historically, the VA has been biased against low back disability cases. These cases present with a very typical scenario. Usually, a Veteran will suffer some type of back injury during service and he may go to sick call where he is treated once or twice for muscle stiffness or soreness. Then, the service treatment records contain very little follow-up for the condition and the separation exam is usually normal. The typical scenario involves a normal separation exam followed by many years without any documentation in the medical records concerning a low back problem. Time combines with the effects of age and the condition progressively worsens to the point that the Veteran is forced to go to a doctor. He finally begins treating for this condition many, many years after service and then finally makes a claim with VA. The VA will then deny the claim on the grounds that he was normal at separation and there is a huge gap between discharge and the onset of significant treatment.

What the VA fails to understand is that usually when you are a young person discharging from service you are not going to make a big deal about a little bit of back pain. You typically believe that it will go away and that you can handle it. So, you get out of service and life goes on. You try to earn a living and support a family and make the best of it. Yet the VA believes that you were not suffering from any problems during those interim years. As a result, you experience the frustration of repeated denials for a claim you know originated with active duty.

What VA fails to understand is that a trauma at a young age, even though the initial pain subsides, predisposes you for early degeneration of the spine that does not become symptomatic until many years later. The VA, out of ignorance, believes that you develop degenerative disc disease immediately following an accident. This has not been the experience of my clients over the years. Nevertheless, we have been successful in helping many Veterans obtain service-connection for spine disabilities involving very difficult fact patterns. If you were recently denied for a claim involving a spine disability, you are more than welcome to contact our office to discuss your situation.