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September 19, 2023

Qualifying for a Tendonitis VA Rating (The Ultimate Guide) 

Last updated on February 22, 2024

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Tendonitis is a painful condition commonly found in veterans due to the physical demands of the military.

Determining your tendonitis VA rating is important because it can significantly affect your VA disability benefits and monthly compensation. 

As a service member, you put your body through a lot on the frontlines, and there’s a good chance you overloaded the tendons in your body. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer.

This guide explains how to qualify for a tendonitis VA rating, so you get the VA benefits and compensation you deserve. 


What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is a condition that causes pain when the tendons in your joints become inflamed. This pain can reduce your range of motion and cause pain when you attempt to move it. 

Typically, tendonitis in veterans is caused by repetitive movements or an injury stemming from manual labor performed while on active duty. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can experience tendonitis in any tendon, but it’s most common around the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels. 

Orthopedic conditions can significantly impact your life, so it’s essential to determine your tendonitis VA rating.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Tendonitis 

  • Sudden and severe pain at the site of the tendon that becomes worse when weight-bearing 
  • Limited motion in the joint
  • A gradual buildup of pain at the site of the tendon
  • Loss of range of motion in the shoulder (aka frozen shoulder)
  • Swelling or stiffness of the joint 
  • Pain around the soft tissue or tendon
  • A grating or crackling noise when moving the damaged tendon 

Treatment for Tendonitis

There are several treatment methods for tendonitis, depending on your condition. Your doctor can determine the best treatment for your situation. Some common tendonitis treatments include:

  • Braces
  • Physical therapy 
  • Dry needling
  • Surgery
  • Injections
  • Ultrasonic tenotomy


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Can I Get VA Compensation for Tendonitis?

Yes! You can receive VA disability for tendonitis if you meet the specific criteria detailed below. 

To receive a tendonitis VA rating, you must qualify for one of the following:

Direction Service Connection 

  1. Have a current diagnosis of tendonitis, AND 
  2. Show evidence of an in-service event, injury, or illness, AND 
  3. Provide a medical nexus linking the current, diagnosed tendonitis to the in-service event, injury, or illness

Secondary Service Connection 

If you have a primary-service connection and can prove it caused or worsened your tendonitis, you may qualify for a secondary-service connection. To determine this, you would need to:

  • Have a current diagnosis of tendonitis, AND 
  • Have evidence of a service connection for your primary disability, AND 
  • Have evidence of a link (nexus) between the primary service-connected disability and the current disability

Tendonitis as a Secondary Condition 

You may be eligible for a VA disability rating for tendonitis (as a secondary condition) if your tendonitis is caused by another service-connected disability, including:

Types of Tendonitis 

You’ve likely heard of “tennis elbow,” a form of tendonitis, but other types can also make your life difficult. Knowing where your pain stems from can assist you when seeking a tendonitis VA rating. 

5 Common Types of Tendonitis

  • Elbow Tendonitis – This condition, also called Tennis Elbow, occurs when the tendons in your elbow are overworked. You may experience pain when turning door knobs, gripping objects, shaking hands, or holding a cup of tea. 
  • Shoulder Tendonitis – You experience shoulder tendonitis when there is an inflammation of the rotator cuff and biceps tendon. 
  • Patellar Tendonitis – This condition occurs when there is an injury to the tendon connecting your kneecap to your shinbone and is often found in activities that involve frequent jumping. 
  • Achilles Tendonitis – You may experience Achilles tendonitis from overuse of your Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to your heel bone. This condition is commonly found in runners, especially those who recently increased their intensity. 
  • Wrist Tendonitis – This condition occurs when there is an inflammation in the tendons that connect the muscles in your forearm to the bones in your hand. You are at risk for wrist tendonitis if you put a lot of stress on your wrist. 

C&P Exam for Tendonitis

When working towards a tendonitis VA rating, you may be required to attend a compensation & pension (C&P) exam. The VA will contact you for a C&P exam if necessary. 

During your exam, you aren’t being treated for your condition; the medical professional will review your information to determine whether it is connected to your time in the service. 

A C&P exam is vital to your claim because it lets the VA know how limiting your condition is and its impact on your daily life. 


Range of Motion Testing for Tendonitis 

The VA uses range-of-motion testing when determining your tendonitis VA disability rating. The various types of motion include: 

  • Flexion = How far you can bend a joint
  • Extension = How far you can extend a joint
  • Lateral flexion = How far you can bend your joint sideways
  • Rotation = How far you can rotate your joints

Doctors use a goniometer to measure the range of motion and help determine the severity of your limitations. 

Top 10 C&P Exam Quick Prep Tips 

Top 10 C&P Exam Quick Prep Tips in Just 10 Minutes (The Insider’s Guide)!

Elbow Tendonitis VA Rating 

Elbow tendonitis is rated by the VA at 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%. Elbow tendonitis is rated analogously based on the limitation of motion of the affected parts.

Elbow Tendonitis VA Rating Chart  

Diagnostic Code 5206-Forearm, Limitation of FlexionVA Rating (Dominant Arm)VA Rating (Non-Dominant Arm)
Flexion limited to 45 degrees50%40%
Flexion limited to 55 degrees40%30%
Flexion limited to 70 degrees30%20%
Flexion limited to 90 degrees 20%20%
Flexion limited to 100 degrees10%10%
Flexion limited to 110 degrees0%0%
Diagnostic Code 5207-Forearm, Limitation of Extension VA Rating (Dominant Arm)VA Rating(Non-Dominant Arm)
Extension limited to 110 degrees50%40%
Extension limited to 100 degrees40%30%
Extension limited to 90 degrees30%20%
Extension limited to 75 degrees20%20%
Extension limited to 60 degrees10%10%
Extension limited to 45 degrees10%10%

Shoulder Tendonitis VA Rating

The shoulder tendonitis disability VA rating is 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%. 

Note: The scapula and humerus move as one piece.

Diagnostic Code 5200-Scapulohumeral articulation, ankylosis of:VA Rating(Major)VA Rating(Minor) 
Unfavorable, abduction limited to 25° from side50%40%
Intermediate between favorable and unfavorable40%30%
Favorable, abduction to 60°, can reach mouth and head30%20%

Patellar Tendonitis VA Rating

The VA rates patellar tendonitis based on the limitation of flexion and extension in your knee using Diagnostic Codes (DC) 5260 and 5261. Patellar tendonitis is rated by the VA at 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%.

Limitation of Flexion of the Knee (DC 5260)

Limitation of flexion of the knee refers to the range of motion you have when bending your knee towards your body. 

Frequently, the VA assigns a 10% rating for limitation of flexion of the knee; however, the highest you can receive is 30%. When determining your rating, the VA notes signs of functional loss like interference with standing and sitting and weakness. 

Limitation of Extension of the Knee (DC 5261)

If your knee can’t straighten all the way, the VA will rate you based on the limitation of extension of the knee. At this point, your knee isn’t frozen, but you don’t have full extension. 

The disability ratings for DC 5261 vary from 0% to 50%. The more difficult it is to straighten your knee, the greater your disability rating likely will be. 


VA Rating for Achilles Tendonitis 

Your Achilles tendonitis VA rating is based on the severity of your condition and is assigned under Diagnostic Codes 5270 and 5271. Achilles tendonitis and ankle tendonitis receive the same rating from the VA and can be rated 10%, 20%, 30%, or 40%. 

Under DC 5270, the VA disability for ankle tendonitis is rated according to ankylosis of the ankle (e.g., abnormal stiffening and immobility), as seen below:

  • 40% – Plantar flexion at more than 40 degrees, or in dorsiflexion at more than 10 degrees, or with abduction, adduction, inversion, or eversion deformity
  • 30% – Plantar flexion, between 30 and 40 degrees, or in dorsiflexion, between 0 and 10 degrees
  • 20% – Plantar flexion, less than 30 degrees

However, if you are rated under DC 5271 for the limited range of motion, the rating criteria are:

  • 20% – Marked limitation of motion of the ankle (less than 5 degrees dorsiflexion or less than 10 degrees plantar flexion)
  • 10% – Moderate limitation of motion of the ankle (less than 15 degrees dorsiflexion or less than 30 degrees plantar flexion)

If your limitation of motion show doesn’t meet the criteria for a compensable rating, a 10% rating may be assigned for each group of minor joints affected by limitation of motion under Diagnostic Code 5003. 

Submitting a VA Claim for Tendonitis 

If you believe you deserve VA disability for tendonitis, the first step is to submit a claim. Remember to keep all documentation of your medical condition, which could benefit you in receiving a higher disability. 

How to WIN Your VA Claim FASTER! (3-Step Process)

3 Steps to Submitting a VA Claim for Tendonitis 

  1. Gather your evidence and submit your intent to file
  2. Submit your claim
  3. Await a decision (expect an exam from the VA)

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