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A Turkish study that was published recently has shown some benefits with using kinesiology tape over a 2-3 week period in subjects with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.  OA of the knee is characterised by pain with walking, stair climbing, rising from sitting and many other everyday activities.  It is also typically associated with reduced quadriceps strength – potentially due to pain inhibition, disuse, or both.

The study set out to determine if the application of kinesiology tape improved the daily function of those with knee OA, as well as whether it reduced their pain, and improved their range of movement (ROM) and strength.  They had 42 subjects with knee OA, divided into 2 groups – the experimental group having kinesiology tape applied to their hamstrings and quadriceps, and a sham taping group that had two “non-therapeutic” transverse pieces of tape applied to their hamstrings and quadriceps.  The tape was applied 3 times over 12-16 days, with each application in place for 3-4 days.  The study looked at function, as measured by the WOMAC outcome scale, and the Aggregated Locomotor Function score, or “ALF”.  The ALF scores walking, stair climbing and walk/sitting function.  The authors also looked at pain, ROM, and strength.

The study found that the kinesiology taping group had significantly reduced activity pain, as measured on the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), and improved walking speed in the ALF testing.    These improvements were even still significant at one month follow up after the cessation of the taping intervention. Whilst the taping was in situ, the kinesiology taping group also had significantly reduced night pain VAS, and increased knee flexion ROM.  Strength measures did not change significantly.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that kinesiology taping can be of some benefit in the management of those with knee OA.  Reducing pain in this group, in addition to improving walking speed and knee ROM, may be helpful for this group in that it may allow them to commence an appropriate strengthening program.  Any improvement in walking speed/tolerance could also help this group to reduce their weight.  Both improving strength and reducing weight are currently thought to be the frontline management of knee OA.

Kaya, M.E., Mustafaoglu, R., Birinci, T., & Razak, O.A., (2016). Does kinesio taping of the knee improve pain and functionality in patients with knee osteoarthritis.  A randomised controlled clinical trial. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000520