A recent study from Europe has shown improvements in pain, oedema and knee extension range in patients following total knee replacement surgery. This is an exciting development in kinesiology taping research and has wide implications for the immediate post-operative comfort of thousands of people undergoing knee replacements every year.
This study by Donec & Krisciunas had 94 participants and they were randomly allocated to two groups. One group received standard post-operative care whilst the second group received the same care but also had kinesiology tape applied. The tape was applied on the second and eighth post-operative days (inflammation technique) and then additionally for the quad muscles and medial knee from the first week onwards, until the 28th day post-op when the study ceased. The variables measured were pain rated on a Visual Analogue Scale, active range of knee flexion and extension, and oedema (compared to pre-operative measures of leg circumference). Measures were taken on the pre-operative day, then at days 2, 8, 16, 24 & 28.
The study found that whilst both groups had a predictable decrease in pain throughout the study, the kinesiology group had significantly less pain than the control group at day 16, 24 & 28. With regard to oedema, the taped group had a significant reduction in oedema in the thigh, knee and calf at day 8, 16, 24 & 28 when compared with controls. Again, predictably both groups had improved range of movement over the course of the study, however the taped group had significantly better extension range at days 24 & 28. The taped group also had slightly more flexion range but this was not statistically significant.
The authors acknowledge that there is a possibility that a placebo effect exists because there is no way of blinding participants from their group allocation, however there appears to be no risk associated with the application of kinesiology tape in this group of patents, provided the wound area is avoided in the tape application. Therefore the use of kinesiology tape could be implemented by therapists working with this population as there may be potential improvement in pain, oedema and knee extension range without any appreciable adverse outcomes for the patient.
Donec, V., & Krisciunas, A., (2014). The effectiveness of Kinesio taping after total knee replacement in early postoperative period. A randomised clinical trial. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (published ahead of print)