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Since returning from military service, you may experience flare-ups of fatigue, widespread pain and/or stiffness, and persistent tenderness in multiple areas of the body. You may have fibromyalgia (FM).

Fibromyalgia is a common health condition that affects about one out of every 20 people in the general population. Studies show that Gulf War veterans are diagnosed with fibromyalgia more frequently than the general population, though its exact cause remains unknown.

As a veteran, your fibromyalgia condition may qualify you for disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, working through the VA claims process can be complicated and frustrating for veterans doing it alone. For help with your fibromyalgia claim, turn to an experienced lawyer at our firm. We handle veterans’ chronic condition claims nationwide.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary from person to person, with periods of good health when you feel like your old self, followed by periods when the symptoms and pain may worsen. The most common symptoms of FM include:

  • Tightness, burning, or painful sensations in the muscles
  • Involuntary muscle twitching
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue that results in a feeling of being drained
  • General nervousness, anxiety, and/or depression
  • “Fibro fog,” or difficulty with concentration and memory recall

In some cases, individuals suffering from fibromyalgia may suffer more severe symptoms like headaches, dryness in the mouth or eyes, various digestive issues, numbness in the extremities, and increased sensitivity to light, sound, and/or temperature. While some symptoms associated with FM are similar to those associated with other conditions like bursitis or osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia is distinct in that it often produces symptoms all over an individual’s body rather than in one location.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Unfortunately, medical science has yet to identify the exact conditions that lead to someone developing fibromyalgia, or even precisely what fibromyalgia is beyond a problem with how the brain interprets pain signals. However, there are a few traits and conditions that seem to make someone more likely to develop FM.

For example, women seem to contract this condition more often than men, as do individuals who previously experienced physical or mental trauma, mood disorders like depression or anxiety, and/or PTSD. A lack of exercise is also correlated with fibromyalgia diagnoses to some extent, and there are even signs that it may be genetic.

FM in Gulf War Vets

Approximately 700,000 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen were deployed to the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War. Within months of their return, many Gulf War veterans began complaining of fatigue, bone and joint pains, cognitive dysfunction, emotional stress, and other symptoms.

A 2005 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome were significantly more common among Persian Gulf War veterans who were deployed than among non-deployed veterans.

Establishing a Service Connection for Fibromyalgia

The VA defines fibromyalgia as “musculoskeletal pain and tender points” on both the left and right sides of the body, above and below the waist, and in the torso and the extremities. Because many servicemembers experienced symptoms consistent with fibromyalgia after serving in the Gulf War, the VA now presumes that FM in Gulf War vets is service connected. In practice. This means veterans applying for disability benefits for fibromyalgia do not have to link their condition to an in-service event as long as they:

  • Served in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations on the ground or in the airspace
  • Experienced fibromyalgia and/or related symptoms during active duty service in that theater prior to December 31, 2016
  • Have experienced FM symptoms for six months or longer
  • Receive a total disability rating of at least 10 percent

How Does the VA Rate Fibromyalgia?

If an applicant’s fibromyalgia is neither constant nor episodic but still requires continuous medication to manage, he or she will receive a disability rating of 10 percent. Otherwise, if an applicant suffers from episodic fibromyalgia that often gets worse following emotional or environmental stress and which is present at least one-third of the time, he or she will receive a disability rating of at least 20 percent. Finally, constant fibromyalgia that therapy cannot improve warrants a disability rating of at least 40 percent.

Ask an Attorney about Veterans’ Fibromyalgia Claims

Establishing the right to disability compensation related to fibromyalgia can be challenging without qualified legal counsel. For this reason, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact our firm by either calling or sending an email. Let our team of dedicated lawyers assist you with filing or appealing a veterans’ fibromyalgia claim.

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