Kinesiology Taping: Should You Believe The Hype? (Part II)

The trials we looked at in part one were largely underwhelming.  Let’s take a broader look at some of the reviews and meta-analyses in order by year.

  • (2012) Mostafavifar et.al. assessed six taping trials for various musculoskeletal injuries and found there was not enough evidence to make any firm conclusions.

“Our systematic review found insufficient evidence for or against the use of KT to improve pain, function, performance, and time to return to play following musculoskeletal injury.”

  • (2012) Williams et.al. assessed ten taping trials that looked at various parameters, including pain, strength, ROM, proprioception, and muscle activity.  The authors found some evidence to support the use of taping for strength and ROM, but no evidence to support its use for pain, proprioception, and muscle activity.  

“In conclusion, there was little quality evidence to support the use of KT over other types of elastic taping in the management or prevention of sports injuries. KT may have a small beneficial role in improving strength, range of motion in certain injured cohorts and force sense error compared with other tapes, but further studies are needed to confirm these findings.”

  • (2013) Morris et.al. assessed eight taping trials for various musculoskeletal conditions, as well as lymphedema and neurological conditions.  The authors found depressing results.  

“There was limited to moderate evidence that KTT is no more clinically effective than sham or usual care tape/bandage…There currently exists insufficient evidence to support the use of KTT over other modalities in clinical practice.”

  • (2014) Csapo et.al. assessed nineteen studies that looked at the effects taping has on strength for various body parts.  Taping was shown to have essentially no effect on strength for any of the body parts assessed.  

“The application of KT to facilitate muscular contraction has no or only negligible effects on muscle strength.”

  • (2014) Montalvo et.al. assessed thirteen studies that looked at the effects of taping on pain in patients with musculoskeletal injuries.  The authors found that taping can reduce pain, but not by much, and not much more than sham taping or other modalities.  And to their credit, they suggested the mechanism by which taping reduces pain may be placebo.

“The findings from this meta-analysis showed that pain reduction achieved by kinesiology taping was no different from pain reduction achieved by more traditional modalities.”

  • (2014) Parreira et.al. assessed twelve studies that looked at the effect of taping versus no treatment or placebo taping for patients with musculoskeletal injuries.  They looked at pain, disability, quality of life, and a few other outcome measures.   The evidence was not in favor of taping.

“When used for a range of musculoskeletal conditions, Kinesio Taping had no benefit over sham taping/placebo and active comparison therapies,the benefit was too small to be clinically worthwhile, or the trials were of low quality. Therefore, current evidence does not support the use of Kinesio Taping for musculoskeletal conditions.”

  • (2015) Kalron et.al. assessed twelve studies that looked at the effect of taping on pain, strength, ROM, and patients with neurological and lymphatic disorders.  

“Although KT® has been shown to be effective in aiding short-term pain, there is no firm evidence-based conclusion of the effectiveness of this application on the majority of movement disorders within a wide range of pathologic disabilities.”

  • (2015) Lim et.al. assessed sixteen studies that looked at the effect of taping on pain.  The authors found it can relieve pain better than no intervention, but not more than anything else we do.  

“In conclusion, this review highlights that KT is superior to minimal intervention for pain relief. Existing evidence does not establish the superiority of KT in reducing disability when compared to either minimal or other forms of intervention.”

  • (2016) Nelson assessed five trials that looked specifically at taping in the treatment of chronic low back pain.  The author found that taping can reduce pain, but not by an amount we care about, and not more than anything else we can recommend.  The author concludes it may be useful as an adjunct for patients with low back pain.

“Specifically, KT does appear to have a small analgesic effect and may reduce disability; however, it is not superior to other treatments and it is unclear how clinically significant these effect are.”

Nine reviews later, we are still in the same place.  The evidence to suggest kinesiology taping is effective for anything beyond short term pain relief is simply not there.  Kinesiology tape has not been shown to have effects that are big enough for us to care.  In the final part of this series we will assess the totality of the evidence and decide how kinesiology taping fits (or doesn’t fit) into our practice.  

References

  1. Mostafavifar M., et.al. (2012) A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Kinesio Taping for Musculoskeletal Injury. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Volume 40, Number 4
  2. Williams S., et.al. (2012) Kinesio Taping in Treatment and Prevention of Sports Injuries. Sports Medicine, Volume 42, Number 2
  3. Morris D., et.al. (2013) The clinical effects of Kinesio Tex taping: A systematic review.  Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, Volume 29, Number 4
  4. Csapo R., et.al. (2013) Effects of Kinesio taping on skeletal muscle strength – A meta-analysis of current evidence, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
  5. Montalvo A., et.al. (2014) Effect of Kinesiology Taping on Pain in Individuals With Musculoskeletal Injuries: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Volume 42, Number 2
  6. Parreira P., et.al. (2014) Current evidence does not support the use of Kinesio Taping in clinical practice: a systematic review.  Journal of Physiotherapy, Volume 60
  7. Kalron A., et.al. (2015) A systematic review of the effectiveness of Kinesio Taping – Fact or fashion? European journal of physical and rehabilitation medicine, Volume 49, Number 5
  8. Lim E., et.al. (2015) Kinesio taping in musculoskeletal pain and disability that lasts for more than 4 weeks: is it time to peel off the tape and throw it out with the sweat? A systematic review with meta-analysis focused on pain and also methods of tape application. British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 49
  9. Nelson, N., et.al. (2016) Kinesio taping for chronic low back pain: A systematic review.  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 20

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