K-Tape – Does it Work?

You see it everywhere, from professional athletes to gym goers on a Tuesday night Kinesio Taping is extremely popular but does it work? 

Originating in Japan in the 1970’s and building in popularity ever since, it is a thinner and more elastic compound compared to normal tape allowing greater mobility and skin traction. It is applied on the target muscle in a stretched position with the therapist determining the amount of tension to apply. In K-Tape theory this traction allows an elevation of the epidermis reducing nociception by reducing pressure on mechanoceptors. Additionally an increase in lymphatic drainage and and blood flow can be seen.

Although reviews have been performed looking into the effects of different population groups and those with neurological impairments the main use of K-Tape is with musculoskeletal disorders and that was the target of this new review by Silva Parreira et al.

Their research questions were:

Is Kinesio Taping more effective than no treatment or sham/placebo in people with musculoskeletal conditions for the outcomes of pain intensity, disability, quality of life, return to work and global impression of recovery?

Is Kinesio Taping more effective than other interventions in people with musculoskeletal conditions for these outcomes?

Is the addition of Kinesio Taping over other interventions more effective than other interventions alone in people with musculoskeletal conditions for these outcomes?

All major databases were searched and a sensible inclusion/exclusion criteria was used as well as the PEDro scale to assess bias. Overall 275 studies were retrieved but only 12 studies were eligible (only 4.4% of studies, this raises its own questions!) culminating in 495 patients (range of 10-76 participants). Additionally the PEDro score ranged from 3-9 with a mean of 6.1.

In summary of results;

  1. Vs no treatment – no clinical significance
  2. Vs Sham Taping – Not more effective
  3. Vs other interventions – not more effective than routine treatment for whiplash, anterior knee pain and chronic low back pain
  4. K-Tape + other interventions Vs interventions alone – no more effective with K-Tape

Overall the studies were of poor quality, no clinical significance, not better than controls or current best practice. This evidence does not support the use of K-Taping however the studies utilised are under powered and generally poor.

Do you use K-Tape clinically? Tell us what you think of this review.