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This Turkish study investigated whether the use of kinesiology tape, in addition to standard scapular and shoulder muscle exercises, improved outcomes in a population of patients with subacromial impingement syndrome.  The 38 patients in the study were randomly allocated to two groups, one that had a “therapeutic” kinesiology tape application to their shoulder, and one that had a “sham” application.  The tape was applied for three days at a time, for a total of twelve days.  Both groups performed the same exercise program aimed at strengthening the scapular stabilising and rotator cuff muscles.  The variables measured included pain on VAS, the DASH outcome measure questionnaire, active and passive joint ROM, and isometric strength.  The measures were taken by an assessor blinded to group allocation.  These measures were taken prior to application of the tape, on the 5th day, and on the 12th day post application.

The study found that those in the therapeutic application group reported significantly less pain during activity on a VAS at the 5th and 12th day, as well as significantly less night pain by the 12th day.  Also statistically significant were the findings of an improved DASH score by day 5 and 12, and in painfree abduction ROM by day 12.  For the strength measurements, the therapeutic group showed significant improvements in external rotation strength by day 12.  Interestingly, the sham group had a greater passive shoulder flexion range at the 12th day, which may reinforce the difficulty of using sham taping for a control group, given that some sensory input would still be altered by the existence of the sham tape.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that kinesiology taping may be a useful adjunct in the management of patients with shoulder injuries.  Significant reductions in pain may be an important benefit, potentially reducing the pain inhibition of the rotator cuff muscles that has been shown to occur with experimentally induced pain.  This may allow earlier progressions of exercises and an expedited rehabilitation process in patients with impingement symptoms.

Simsek, H.H., Balki, S., Keklik, S.S., Ozturk, H., & Elden, H., (2013).  Does Kinesio taping in adition to exercise therapy improve the outcomes in subacromial impingement syndrome?  A randomised, double-blind, controlled clinical trial.  Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica 47 (2) 104-110

Full article can be downloaded here:


shoulder taping