Why We Use the Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale

Acute and chronic pain is the primary reason acting service members and Veterans of military service seek healthcare services. That includes low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and acute and chronic pain from combat injuries.

The Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale, developed by The Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management, is an assessment tool that utilizes a numerical rating scale, enhanced by functional word descriptors, color coding, and pictorial facial expressions, to evaluate pain levels. Supplemental questions measure how much pain interferes with normal activity and sleep, affects mood and contributes to stress. The organization’s mission to leverage the best available evidence, clinical expertise, and collaboration to develop and communicate consensus recommendations in support of Air Force, Army, Navy, and VHA pain management practice, education, and research.

The origins of the DVPRS date to 2010, when the Army Surgeon General released the Pain Management Task Force final report. Concerns were raised by military healthcare providers that the standard numeric rating scale (NRS) for pain was inconsistently administered and of questionable clinical value. In response, the DVPRS was developed.

At its most basic level, the DVPRS was designed to enhance the understanding of incremental pain intensity levels, and to improve communication and documentation. The DVPRS uses numbers and “traffic light” color coded bars to delineate levels of pain: Mild (1 to 4, green), Moderate (5 to 6, yellow), and Severe (7 to 10, red).

RS Medical uses the DVRPS to formulate its assessments of patients because it represents the most up-to-date and tool for Veterans to accurately represent their pain and activity level. Learn about the actual assessment data and results on our website.

This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare professional.

Lisa Reinhardt