The Ribs Overview
The VA awards disability compensation for each Rib condition that is service-connected. The DoD will also rate service-connected conditions as long as they also make the service member Unfit for Duty. For Reservists, the condition must have occurred in or resulted from an injury in the Line of Duty to qualify.
The Musculoskeletal System is vast and complex, consisting of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones. Thus, a single injury to the Ribs can cause multiple issues. Because of this complexity, the VA simplified the rating system for musculoskeletal conditions to focus on the resulting disability from a condition or group of conditions existing in the same body part.
To honor the Pyramiding Principle, only a single rating can be given for conditions of the Ribs with a few exceptions. If a nerve condition also exists in the Ribs, then that can be rated separately under one of the Vagus Nerve or Long Thoracic Nerve codes since the Nervous System is separate and distinct. Other exceptions, if any, are noted in specific rating codes found on the Rib Condition Ratings page.
Muscles do have their own rating system (see the Torso and Neck Muscles page), but cannot be rated in addition to another musculoskeletal rating for the Ribs since they often result in similar symptoms (limitation of motion, etc.).
The Rib Ratings
Because the Ribs consists specifically of the bones themselves, the VASRD only gives a single code for rating the Ribs, code 5297. All other Rib conditions can be covered by muscle or nerve ratings.