Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Exercise and Sport Science

First Advisor

Aaron D. Sciascia

Department Affiliation

Exercise and Sport Science

Second Advisor

Matthew J. Sabin

Department Affiliation

Exercise and Sport Science

Third Advisor

Michael T. Lane

Department Affiliation

Exercise and Sport Science


Objective: Pain is the most common symptom and reason for why affected individuals seek out medical attention for injuries. The most common pain scales are: the numerical rating scale (NRS), 5-point verbal rating scale (VRS-5), and visual analog scale (VAS) but there is no gold standard established to measure unidimensional pain intensity. Algometry is an objective technique to measure pain pressure threshold and tolerances. However, there is little research on which scale is best suited to assess pain intensity in different demographics; including athletic populations and other types of groups; as well as, whether subjective pain scale measurements can be correlated to objective algometric measurements.

Methods: Both men and women between the ages of 18-35 with joint pain were recruited to participate in the study. The four common pain scales (NRS, VAS, VRS-5 Mankoski) as well as patient specific functional scale(PSFS), brief resiliency scale(BRS), and pain catastrophizing scale (PCS) were completed by each subject. Then each participant had their pressure discomfort threshold (PDT) and pressure pain tolerance (PPT) tested with an algometer at 3 pre-determined sites as well as where the subject had joint pain, bilaterally. Data was analyzed and sorted into subgroups: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletes and non-collegiate athletes, men and women, injured and non-injured.

Results: Participants (n=69) completed the study, all of the pain scales were consistently correlated together in every subgroup of data (collegiate athlete vs non-collegiate athlete, men and women, injury status). The pain scales were not consistently correlated to any of the algometric measurements. Collegiate athletes rated their pain higher than non-collegiate athletes using the NRS. There were no statistically significant differences between genders, but men consistently tolerated more force when applied during algometry measurements. The individuals, who identified as injured, had higher pain ratings on pain scales but tolerated a similar amount of force applied when the algometry measurements were taken.

Conclusion: NRS, VAS, VRS-5, Mankoski scales could all be used to assess the pain intensity of athletes or the athletic population. Clinicians should be aware that NCAA Division I collegiate athletes have higher pain thresholds and pain tolerances compared to non-collegiate athletes.