Military service requires a great deal of sacrifice from those who serve our country. However, the physical toll on service members’ joints can be brutal.
According to a report by Stripes, military deployment actively puts troops at a much higher risk of osteoarthritis at a younger age compared to the general population.
Active-duty assignments and military training, especially on weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, spine, ankles, and fingers, often lead to Veterans seeking knee replacements.
As a Veteran who has had, or is considering, a knee replacement, it is crucial to understand the following facts.
It is important to note that there is no presumed service connection for a knee injury.
Veterans must provide substantive evidence, including medical records, doctors’ statements, and service history, to prove that their injury stems from military service.
However, disabling knee injuries may qualify Veterans for benefits.
If Veterans can demonstrate that their knee injury is service-related, the VA will give them a disability rating for the condition. Under 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a Code 5055, disability ratings range from 30% to 100% disabling.
After a full knee replacement, Veterans are rated at 100% for their first year after surgery.
After the first year, the VA will give a permanent rating somewhere between 30% (for lesser symptoms) and 60% (if they suffer weakness and severe pain with motion).
The minimum rating a Veteran can receive after a full knee replacement is 30%.
In the case of partial knee replacements, the VA assigns ratings based on the symptoms the patient experiences, with no set minimum rating.
Knee replacement surgery can significantly improve a Veteran’s quality of life if successful.
Although complications from knee replacements are rare, certain knee replacement systems have shown higher rates of failure and have been subject to recalls.
Examples of such systems include:
Knee systems often fail due to loosening of the bond with the bone, which causes pain, instability, swelling, limited range of motion, and weakness.
In such cases, revision surgery is necessary to replace the defective knee system. If Veterans have had a knee replacement and are experiencing any of these issues, they must report the problem to their healthcare provider.
However, it is also essential to consult an attorney with experience in knee replacement litigation to advise Veterans of their rights and pursue compensation.
Veterans who have served our country and have suffered knee injuries due to military service are entitled to VA benefits if they can provide evidence to support their claim.
Understanding the ratings system for knee replacements and the risks associated with certain knee systems is essential for Veterans to make informed decisions about their healthcare.
Reporting issues with knee replacements to healthcare providers and seeking legal advice from experienced attorneys can help Veterans receive the compensation they deserve.