Bone And Joint Medical Disqualifications from Military

Bone And Joint MIlitary Disqualifications - Military Metal

Knee pain medical ailments

Many people want to join the U.S. Military. However, there are several medical concerning bones and joints that can prevent people from doing so. In fact, the list is quite long of medical conditions that automatically disqualify you from military service and many of these issues will prevent a large number of military recruits from fully entering the service. Many of these ailments can be excused with a waiver depending upon the circumstances, but waivers are typically on a case by case basis. Many depend upon the injury or defect, but also the technological advances in surgical repairs.

The causes for rejection for appointment, enlistment, and induction (without an approved waiver) are an authenticated history of:


  • Current non-union of any fracture (except asymptomatic ulnar styloid process fracture) is disqualifying.
  • Current retained hardware that is symptomatic, interferes with proper wearing of protective equipment or military uniform, and/or is subject to easy trauma, is disqualifying.
  • Retained hardware (including plates, pins, rods, wires, or screws used for fixation) is NOT disqualifying if fractures are healed, ligaments are stable, there is no pain, and it is not subject to easy trauma.
  • Current devices, including, but not limited to silastic or titanium, implanted to correct orthopedic abnormalities, are disqualifying.
  • Current or history of contusion of bone or joint; an injury of more than a minor nature that will interfere or prevent performance of military duty, or will require frequent or prolonged treatment without fracture nerve injury, open wound, crush or dislocation, which occurred within the preceding 6 weeks (upper extremity, lower extremity, ribs and clavicle) is disqualifying.
  • History of joint replacement of any site is disqualifying.
  • Current or history of muscular paralysis, contracture, or atrophy, if progressive or of sufficient degree to interfere with or prevent satisfactory performance of military duty or if it will require frequent or prolonged treatment, is disqualifying.
  • Current osteochondritis dessicans is disqualifying.
  • Current or history of osteochondromatosis or multiple cartilaginous exostoses are disqualifying.
  • Current osteoporosis is disqualifying.
  • Current osteomyelitis, or history of recurrent osteomyelitis is disqualifying.
  • See also Upper Extremities and Lower Extremities.

Limitation of Motion

Current joint ranges of motion less than the measurements listed in paragraphs below are disqualifying.

Hip (due to disease or injury)

(a) Flexion to 90 degrees.

(b) No demonstrable flexion contracture.

(c) Extension to 10 degrees (beyond 0 degrees).

(d) Abduction to 45 degrees.

(e) Rotation of 60 degrees (internal and external combined).

Knee  (due to disease or injury)

(a) Full extension to 0 degrees.

(b) Flexion to 110 degrees.

Ankle  (due to disease or injury):

(a) Dorsiflexion to 10 degrees.

(b) Planter flexion to 30 degrees.

Subtalar eversion and inversion totaling 5 degrees

Pain That Prevents Full Range Of Motion / Ability

Any current or history of chondromalacia, including, but not limited to chronic patellofemoral pain syndrome and retro-patellar pain syndrome, chronic osteoarthritis or traumatic arthritis is disqualifying. 

Current joint dislocation if unreduced, or history of recurrent dislocations of any major joint such as shoulder, hip, elbow, knee, ankle, or instability of any major joint (shoulder, elbow, hip, ankle and foot or multiple sites) is disqualifying. 

History of recurrent instability of the knee or shoulder is disqualifying.

However, surgical repairs may make some of these issues above subject to waiver. 

Current or history of chronic osteoarthritis  or traumatic arthritis of isolated joints of more than a minimal degree that has interfered with the following of a physically active vocation in civilian life, or that prevents the satisfactory performance of military duty is disqualifying.

Foot and Ankle

Any current neuroma that is refractory to medical treatment, or impairs walking, marching, running, or jumping, or prevents the proper wearing of military footwear, is disqualifying.

Current absence of a foot or any portion thereof is disqualifying.

Current or history of deformities of the toes including, but not limited to conditions such as hallux valgus, hallux varus, hallux rigidicus, hammer toe(s), claw toe(s), overriding toe(s), that prevents the proper wearing of military footwear or impairs walking, marching, running, or jumping, are disqualifying.

Current or history of clubfoot or pes cavus that prevents the proper wearing of military footwear or impairs walking, marching, running or jumping is disqualifying.

Current symptomatic pes planus or history of pes planus corrected by prescription or custom orthotics is disqualifying.

Current ingrown toenails, if infected or symptomatic, are disqualifying.

Current plantar fasciitis is disqualifying.

Current ankle sprains, fasciitis, dislocations will cause a fail at the MEPS or DODMERB medical physical test.  Candidates and recruits must not have ANY current injuries, even if minor and can heal in a short period of time. 

Leg, Knee, Thigh and Hip

Current loose or foreign body within the knee joint is disqualifying.

History of uncorrected anterior or posterior cruciate ligament injury is disqualifying.

History of surgical correction of knee ligaments is disqualifying only if symptomatic or unstable. Current symptomatic medial and lateral collateral ligament injury are disqualifying.

Current symptomatic medial and lateral meniscal injury are disqualifying.

Current unspecified internal derangement of the knee is disqualifying.

Current or history of congenital dislocation of the hip, osteochondritis of the hip (Legg-Perthes disease), or slipped femoral epiphysis of the hip is disqualifying.

Current or history of hip dislocation within 2 years preceding examination is disqualifying.

Current osteochondritis of the tibial tuberosity (Osgood-Schlatter disease) is disqualifying if symptomatic.

General Conditions

Current deformities, disease, or chronic joint pain of pelvic region, thigh, lower leg, ankle and/ or foot that have interfered with function to such a degree as to prevent the individual from following a physically active vocation in civilian life, or that would interfere with walking, running, weight bearing, or the satisfactory completion of training or military duty, are disqualifying.

Current leg-length discrepancy resulting in a limp is disqualifying.

Related Articles

Derived from Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 6130.3, "Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, and Induction," and DOD Instruction 6130.4, "Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces."