Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated, resulting in shooting pain, weakness, tingling, or burning through the buttocks and down one or both legs. Sciatica can also cause difficulty in walking and paralysis.
If you have a service-connected back condition, it is very likely that you can secondarily connect your sciatica. Sciatica is often caused by other back conditions. Common examples of conditions that cause sciatica include spinal stenosis or disc herniations.
If you do not have a service-connected back condition, you can still get your sciatica service-connected! Sciatica is caused by irritation of the roots of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine, which can occur by a number of physical activities. If you think you hurt yourself some time in service, think back to if you ever fell, what your daily activities included, and how those activities could affect your back.
Support your belief with medical records before and after service to show that you didn’t have back pain until after your time in service. Finally, ask your physician to write an opinion regarding if it is “at least as likely as not” that your time in service caused your sciatica.
There are 3 conditions that nerves can be rated under: paralysis, neuritis, and neuralgia. Once it’s determined which category your condition falls under, you can be rated either under that category or (option 2) under limited motion.
If sciatica causes limited motion you can only have one rating for it; however, if your limited motion is caused by something else, then you can be rated both for your sciatica and your limited motion.
Tip: After checking where you’d be rated under sciatic code below check limited motion of hip, knee, or ankle to see if you’d get a higher rating!
Step 1: To determine which of the 3 categories your sciatica falls under, look to the sciatic nerve itself. Think of the three categories like levels. You must meet all of the criteria of one category to be able to qualify for the next level up.
Step 2: Then, once you’ve determined the category, to determine the level of severity you need to look to the loss of function it causes you.
1. Paralysis (most severe) – The nerve cannot function at all
80% Complete If the foot drops, all the muscles in the leg below the knee do not work, and the knee has serious trouble bending
60% Incomplete Severe Muscle atrophy, poor blood circulation, and or limited functionality of affected body part.
40% Incomplete Moderately Severe
20% Incomplete Moderate
10% Incomplete Mild
2. Neuritis – The nerve functions however it is swollen, irritated, and painful. Has either: reduced ability to sense, muscle atrophy, or loss of reflexes.
60% Severe Severe loss of reflexes & sensation, muscle atrophy, severely limited function.
40% Moderately Severe
3. Neuralgia (least severe) – The nerve is occasionally or constantly painful. May include tingling or numbness.
20% Moderate Tingling, numbness, moderate to severe pain, and interference with affected limb’s function.
10% Mild Tinging, mild pain, and mild interference with limb’s function.
If you think your sciatica rating is incorrect, or need help proving your service connection please call or chat with us online for a free consultation. Bosley & Bratch has been helping veterans get the rating they deserve since 1995; we have the skill and experience to help you get the support you need!