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Kinesio taping (KT) is used to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries. This systematic review examines the evidence for the effectiveness of KT in improving patient outcomes following musculoskeletal injury.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
A literature search (October 2011) was performed using PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, SportsDiscus, and Cochrane databases. The literature search employed the keywords "kinesio tap*" or "kinesiotap*" or "athletic tap*" and "performance" or "function" or "strength" or "activity" or "pain" or "muscle" and "athlet*" or "sport*." These searches yielded a total of 727 articles, which were reviewed thoroughly to identify suitable articles.
Six studies met our criteria and were included in this systematic review. Two of these studies examined musculoskeletal injuries in the lower extremity and reported that the use of KT did not affect outcome measures. Two studies examined musculoskeletal injuries involving the spine. Treatment with KT significantly improved pain levels and range of motion in patients with acute whiplash-associated disorders of the cervical spine both immediately and 24 hours after injury; however, the long-term results did not differ between the 2 groups. Subjects with chronic low back pain treated with KT and exercise, KT alone, or exercise alone experienced significant improvement in short-term pain, while the exercise-only group also showed significantly less long-term disability. Two studies examined musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder. The first of these found insufficient evidence to indicate that KT decreases pain and disability in young patients with shoulder impingement/tendinitis, while the second suggested that KT may provide short-term pain relief for patients with shoulder impingement. This systematic review found insufficient evidence to support the use of KT following musculoskeletal injury, although a perceived benefit cannot be discounted. There are few high-quality studies examining the use of KT following musculoskeletal injury.
In this systematic review article, we assessed the effects of therapeutic Kinesio Taping® (KT®) on pain and disability in participants suffering from musculoskeletal, neurological and lymphatic pathologies. Four online databases (CINAHL, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, PEDro) were comprehensively searched from their inception through March 2012. The initial literature search found 91 controlled trials. Following elimination procedures, 26 studies were fully screened. Subsequently, 12 met our inclusion criteria. The final 12 articles were subdivided according to the basic pathological disorders of the participants' musculoskeletal (N.=9), neurological (N.=1) and lymphatic (N.=2) systems. As to the effect on musculoskeletal disorders, moderate evidence was found supporting an immediate reduction in pain while wearing the KT®. In 3 out of 6 studies, reduction of pain was superior to that of the comparison group. However, there is no support indicating any long-term effect. Additionally, no evidence was found connecting the KT® application to elevated muscle strength or long-term improved range of movement. No evidence to support the effectiveness of KT® for neurological conditions. As to lymphatic disorders, inconclusive evidence was reported. 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. More research is clearly needed.