Citation Nr: 18124070
Decision Date: 08/06/18	Archive Date: 08/03/18

DOCKET NO. 12-08 463
DATE:	August 6, 2018
ORDER
Entitlement to service connection for cervical disc disease is granted.
Entitlement to service connection for lumbar disc disease is granted.
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy, claimed as a leg condition, is granted.
FINDING OF FACT
The Veteran’s cervical disc disease and lumbar disc disease with bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy are related to service.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The criteria for service connection for cervical disc disease are met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 5107(b); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(a).
2. The criteria for service connection for lumbar disc disease are met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 5107(b); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(a).
3. The criteria for service connection for bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy are met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 5107(b); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(a).
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSIONS
1. Entitlement to service connection for cervical disc disease is granted.
2. Entitlement to service connection for lumbar disc disease is granted.
3. Entitlement to service connection for bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy, claimed as a leg condition, is granted.
The Veteran served on active duty from August 1983 to June 1986.
The Veteran seeks service connection for upper and lower spine disabilities along with bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy, asserting that such conditions are related to an in-service injury.
The Board concludes that the Veteran has current diagnoses of cervical disc disease, lumbar disc disease, and bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy that are related to service.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1131, 5107(b); Holton v. Shinseki, 557 F.3d 1363, 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2009); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(a).
The Veteran has been diagnosed with cervical disc disease and lumbar disc disease with bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy.  See May 2010 VA Examination Report.  The Veteran’s private chiropractor, in a May 2018 report, opined that the Veteran’s conditions are at least as likely as not related to service.  The chiropractor explained that the Veteran injured his spine in a June 1984 wrestling incident in service, that he immediately experienced pain symptoms, and that he continued to experience symptoms following that incident.  The chiropractor opined, based on the description of the June 1984 incident, that the Veteran suffered structural injury to the spine at that time.  The chiropractor further explained that once a spinal injury occurs it is susceptible to ongoing episodes or symptoms of further aggravating incidents that may cause worsening pain.  The chiropractor explained that in this case the Veteran continued to experience ongoing neck, back, and radicular symptoms from the injury.  The chiropractor noted that the Veteran sought additional treatment in service following the injury, and that he self-treated after service until his symptoms worsened and he eventually sought formal treatment.  
The May 2018 chiropractor’s opinion is supported by the evidence of record.  The Veteran’s service treatment records show that the Veteran sought treatment following the June 1984 wrestling incident for neck and back pain.  The Veteran sought additional treatment for his symptoms on more than one occasion again before separation from service.  See October 1984 STR; April 1986 STR.  The Veteran testified that he continued to experience these symptoms following service and that he self-treated for these symptoms until he sought formal treatment.  See June 2016 Board Hearing Tr., p. 30.  The Veteran’s spouse also reported that the Veteran has complained of the same pain symptoms in his neck, back, and arms since the in-service incident.  See June 2016 Board Hearing Tr., p. 26; January 2010 Veteran’s Spouse’s Statement.  The Board finds the May 2018 opinion highly probative, as it is accompanied by a thorough rationale and based on the complete evidence of record, including the Veteran and his spouse’s lay testimony.
The Board notes that a May 2010 VA examiner opined that it was unlikely that the Veteran’s cervical and lumbar disc disease were related to service.  However, the VA examiner relied on the lack of medical treatment records following service and did not have the benefit of the Veteran’s later Board hearing testimony regarding his continuing symptomatology since service and his medical history including self-treatment for pain symptoms from service until he received formal medical treatment.  The VA examiner also did not have the benefit of the Veteran’s spouse’s testimony which confirmed the Veteran’s complaints of pain symptoms since the in-service incident.  The VA examiner’s opinion was also based on an assumption that the Veteran’s in-service injury appeared limited to the Veteran’s neck and upper back.  However, the Veteran’s later Board hearing testimony detailed his injury as involving his entire neck and back.  As the May 2010 VA medical opinion is not based on accurate factual premises, it is not probative.  See Reonal v. Brown, 5 Vet. App. 458, 461(1993).
Viewing the evidence as a whole, and in the light most favorable to the Veteran, the Board finds service connection for cervical disc disease, lumbar disc disease, and bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy is warranted.
 
BETHANY L. BUCK
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	A. Purcell, Associate Counsel 

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