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With certain injuries and conditions, it is okay to experience some pain during activities and afterwards. However it is important that this pain does not become too high, and that it reduces once activity is finished. The Traffic Light System is an easy way to ensure pain levels do not mean more damage, and can be paired with the use of a Pain Diary to track pain levels and loading (see link below).

Make sure you see a Physiotherapist to confirm it is okay for you to experience some pain during activity.

The Traffic Light System uses the Visual Analogue Scale as a scale to score pain levels. This is a subjective scale, where pain is rated from 0-10, where 0 is no pain at all, and 10 is the worst pain imaginable.

The Traffic Light System works as follows:

    • Pain scored < 3/10.
      • Pain at this level is okay, and you can continue current activities.
    • Pain scored 4/10 to 6/10.
      • Pain at this level shoulder be monitored.
      • It is okay to continue activity at this level, as long as it reduces to a green light (<3/10) following activity and the next morning.
      • If pain stays as a yellow light, an appointment with your Physiotherapist is indicated and load should be reduced.
    • Pain scored >7/10
      • Pain scored at this level means we should stop activity, as tendon load is too high.
      • Load should be decreased, and an appointment with your Physiotherapist is indicated.

Pain Diary

It is important to accurately keep track of our pain during and after activities when managing load. Keeping a pain diary is a good way to track this. You can use the link below to access a pain diary.

Using a pain diary, we can also see trends in loading and pain. For example, pain gradually decreasing with the same activities, means the tendon is adapting to load correctly. Whereas pain gradually increasing with similar activities indicates the injury may be becoming overloaded.