Also referred to as runner’s heel, neuritis, or painful sole syndrome, plantar fasciitis is an often excruciating foot condition caused by inflammation in the fascia – a band of connective tissue that connects the heel bones to the toes – of the sole of your foot. Those that suffer from plantar fasciitis may experience mild to severe pain in the bottom of their feet. The pain can often be so intense that it is impossible to put any weight on the foot. For veterans suffering from plantar fasciitis, it could have an impact on your VA rating.
Here’s what you need to know when submitting your VA claim.
Symptoms & Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The most common and primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is the feeling of tenderness and pain on the sole of the foot that gets worse with walking and other weight-bearing activities. Pain may start in the heel and move towards the toes. Because the onset of this condition is gradual, people often don’t seek medical help until the pain interferes with their daily life.
Plantar fasciitis is commonly experienced by runners, athletes, and those required to stand on hard surfaces for long periods. Because military service members spend a lot of time standing and carrying heavy loads on their backs, they are at high risk of experiencing foot injuries and pain like plantar fasciitis.
The following risk factors are often associated with the onset of plantar fasciitis:
- 40+ years of age
- Excercise that puts pressure on the heel, like running and walking
- Flat feet or high arch
- Walking and standing on hard surfaces for long periods
Connecting Plantar Fasciitis to Service
As mentioned above, military service members often spend long days standing or walking on hard surfaces or rough terrain, leading to different types of feet conditions, such as pes planus, hallux valgus, and plantar fasciitis. It is usually easy for veterans who receive a diagnosis from a podiatrist or regular doctor, along with X-rays, to connect their foot conditions with their military service.
Veterans diagnosed long after leaving the service may still be eligible for a plantar fasciitis VA rating. They must provide medical evidence that their heel pain was caused or aggravated by a secondary service-connected disability like back, hip, or knee strain.
Receiving a Plantar Fasciitis VA Rating
The VA looks at the following criteria on a plantar fasciitis disability claim:
- Current diagnosis of plantar fasciitis by a general physician or podiatrist
- Proof and description of in-service events that caused foot pain or foot injury, which led to plantar fasciitis
- Evidence of how military service caused or worsened the plantar fasciitis
As of February 2021, plantar fasciitis now has a Diagnostic Code and ratings that range from 10% to 40%. The breakdown of these ratings is as follows:
- 10% – this rating is applied to cases of plantar fasciitis classified as otherwise and can apply to one or both feet.
- 20% – this rating applies when the veteran meets the above criteria, and only one foot is impacted by plantar fasciitis.
- 30% – this rating is for veterans for whom surgical or non-surgical treatment methods provide no relief, and both feet are affected.
- 40% – this rating applies to veterans who experience the loss of the use of the foot affected by plantar fasciitis.