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Kinesiology Tape, does it help with pain?

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

This week I am reviewing an article and my thoughts on kinesiology tape. Kinesiology tape is a type of tape that is becoming more popular. It is also known as elastic therapeutic tape. The taping techniques are different than traditional taping techniques. In addition, there are many different brands of kinesiology tape, i.e. Kinesio Tape, KT tape, K-tape (this is the course I took), Rocktape… I believe when I took the K-tape course last fall, the instructor, Lois Pohlod, stated that there were over 60 different brands of tape. Personally, I have only used the K-tape. I would like to get a couple different brands of tape and see how long they last, what do they feel like when they are applied, the difference in ‘stretchiness’ and generally how they hold up with the wear and tear of everyday live and sport.

The article I want to go over today is “Effect of Kinesiology Taping on Pain in Individuals With Musculoskeletal Injuries: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”. The article was authored by Montalvo AM, Le Cara E, Myer GD and was published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine. To read the abstract simply click on the title of the article:

One of the differences between kinesiology tape and traditional taping is that it allows individuals taped to still move through a full ROM. Whereas traditional taping with athletic tape restricts ROM, which is thought to add stability and protection to that joint of the body. It is not completely understood how the use of kinesiology tape helps to protect the wearer.

Personally, I think that when the tape is stretched it acts as a reminder, either conscious or unconscious, to the person moving that joint. One example of this is a gentleman that I am currently treating. He strained his right calf muscle when his daughter jumped onto him as he was walking up a curb and hyper dorsiflexed his foot. Since the initial injury he has re aggravated the right calf 3-4 times, doing simple things like going up stairs, using the ball of the his foot on the edge of the stair. Since starting to use K-tape on the client’s right calf, He states that when he now goes up the stairs, it is a subtle reminder that he should put more of his foot on the stair tread. He has not re injured his calf since using the K-tape. Interesting...

This article looked at the existing literature and look at the specific effect of kinesiology tape application on pain in individuals with musculoskeletal injury.

Throughout this article they talk about the MCID. MCID = minimal clinical significant difference. Basically this is the smallest difference that is clinically meaningful to the client. The researchers looked for this difference in pain scores, they got articles that used two different pain scores, VAS, visual analogue scale, and PI-NRS, pain intensity - numeric rating scale.

The MCID for VAS = 30mm and for PI-NRS = 2-point or 30% reduction.

The authors looked for articles that were in English and were published between 2003 and 2013. The articles had to be randomized controlled trials, have to be for a systematic review and meta-analysis. In addition, they wanted to only use high level, good quality, studies. When they did their literature search 36 articles were found. After going through the inclusion and exclusion criteria only 13 articles remained.

So what was the outcome? I know you that you know that I know that you are dying to know…

The outcome was this; kinesiology tape had the same effectiveness in reducing pain as other modalities, i.e. electrical stimulation or cervical manipulation.

However, there were certain things in the discussion that I thought were interesting. One such items, was that kinesiology taping may cause a more rapid decrease in pain compared to other modalities. In addition, the amount of pain that is decreased with kinesiology taping may not reach the MCID, even though it is statistically different.

In well-controlled studies, it appears that kinesiology taping can give more pain reduction than placebo kinesiology taping. In the lower quality studies, there was no difference found between the two groups. One possibility is that their actually is a placebo effect with putting kinesiology tape on a client. If client’s have seen it on different athletes, at high levels, i.e. The Olympics, then they may have the expectation that the tape works, even it is put on incorrectly. This expectation may be enough to reduce pain.

"The findings from this meta-analysis showed that pain reduction achieved by kinesiology taping was not different from pain reduction achieved by more traditional modalities".

The researchers mentioned that new research should focus on being more careful with the control groups, controlling patient expectations. As well as, more subjective pain measurements could be used.

I like this article and now I know that it is just as effective as other modalities in reducing pain. An added benefit is that kinesiology taping might reduce pain even quicker, which is the reason that clients come to physiotherapy in the first place. Most people believe that their pain will go away but they want it to go away faster. That gives me more confidence in taping up some clients that are in acute pain.

If you have any questions about kinesiology tape or taping, send NLP an email. We would be more than happy to discuss it and see if it could help you.

What brands of kinesiology tape do the readers like to use?

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