Kinesio Tape Smells Like Placebo

Current evidence does not support the use of Kinesio Taping in clinical practice: a systematic review. J Physiother. 2014 Mar;60(1):31-9. Parreira Pdo C, Costa Lda C, Hespanhol Junior LC, Lopes AD, Costa LO.

Questions: Is Kinesio Taping more effective than a sham taping/placebo, no treatment or other interventions in people with musculoskeletal conditions? Is the addition of Kinesio Taping to other interventions more effective than other interventions alone in people with musculoskeletal conditions? Design: Systematic review of randomised trials. Participants: People with musculoskeletal conditions. Intervention: Kinesio Taping was compared with sham taping/placebo, no treatment, exercises, manual therapy and conventional physiotherapy. Outcome measures: Pain intensity, disability, quality of life, return to work, and global impression of recovery. Results: Twelve randomised trials involving 495 participants were included in the review. The effectiveness of the Kinesio Taping was tested in participants with: shoulder pain in two trials; knee pain in three trials; chronic low back pain in two trials; neck pain in three trials; plantar fasciitis in one trial; and multiple musculoskeletal conditions in one trial. The methodological quality of eligible trials was moderate, with a mean of 6.1 points on the 10-point PEDro Scale score. Overall, Kinesio Taping was no better than sham taping/placebo and active comparison groups. In all comparisons where Kinesio Taping was better than an active or a sham control group, the effect sizes were small and probably not clinically significant or the trials were of low quality. Conclusion: This review provides the most updated evidence on the effectiveness of the Kinesio Taping for musculoskeletal conditions. The current evidence does not support the use of this intervention in these clinical populations.

My Comments:

It’s bad news for your intervention when review papers start looking at hundreds of patients with a number of conditions and conclude it probably doesn’t do anything good, for any of them.

Kinesio Tape is that colorful tape you see applied to people’s body parts, often in fancy patterns, with an intent to make them heal better.  It doesn’t surprise me in the least, however, that researchers are now concluding that it has no clinical benefit. Kinesio tape has been around for years, and this paper says it was first created by a Japanese chiropractor in the 1970s.  I noticed it really got popular in and after the 2012 Summer Olympics, where Kinesio Tape was prominently displayed on a number of beach volleyball players.  And sure enough, a quote from this paper is:

It seems that the growing use of Kinesio Taping is due to massive marketing campaigns (such as the ones used during the London 2012 Olympic Games) rather than high-quality, scientific evidence with clinically relevant outcomes.”

“The widespread use of Kinesio Taping in musculoskeletal and sports physical therapy is probably further reinforced by the authors in some of the included trials concluding that Kinesio Taping was effective when their data did not identify significant benefits.”

So in other words, Kinesio Tape is popular because of good marketing and poor researchers.  I think another problem is just a lack of critical thinking skills on the part of medical practitioners (which sadly includes a lot of physical therapists) who should know better.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you have any questions or comments (even hostile ones) please don’t hesitate to ask/share. If you’re reading one of my older blogs, perhaps unrelated to neck or back pain, and it helps you, please remember Spinal Flow Yoga for you or someone you know in the future.

Chad Reilly is a Physical Therapist, obtaining his Master’s in Physical Therapy from Northern Arizona University. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. Exercise Science also from NAU. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and holds a USA Weightlifting Club Coach Certification as well as a NASM Personal Training Certificate. Chad completed his Yoga Teacher Training at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa, India.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.