Research in Focus: Efficacy of Kinesio Taping in Treatment of Shoulder Pain and Disability

  •   August 7, 2020
  •  Leanne Loranger, PT

Full Citation

Ghozy S, Dung NM, Morra ME, Morsy S, Elsayed GG, Tran L, Minh LHN, Abbas AS, Loc TTH, Hieu TH, Dung TC, Huy NT. Efficacy of Kinesio Taping in Treatment of Shoulder Pain and Disability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Physiotherapy 2020; 107:176-188.

Background

Shoulder pain is a common problem, arising due to various underlying pathologies and resulting in impairments of shoulder range of movement, function and quality of life. Kinesio tape is a well-marketed product which rose to popularity following the 2012 Olympic Games and is widely used by physiotherapists and athletes of all levels. Kinesio tape has been proposed as a treatment method to support and stabilize muscles and joints including the shoulder joint, without restricting range of movement. Several studies have reported on the effectiveness of Kinesio taping in the management of shoulder pain. The purpose of this study was to systematically review and complete a meta-analysis of the evidence related to the clinical effectiveness of Kinesio tape compared with other treatments in the management of shoulder pain and disability.

Methods

  • Systematic review conducted according to PRISMA Statement
  • Databases searched:
    • PubMed, Scopus, ISI Web of Science, POPLINE, Virtual Health Library, System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe, Global Health Library, The New York Academy of Medicine, ClinicalTrials.com and Google Scholar
  • No restrictions on language of publication or publication date
  • Inclusion Criteria:
    • Randomized clinical trials
    • Investigating Kinesio taping in the treatment of shoulder pain
    • Comparisons included other interventions, placebo or control (no taping)
    • Patients with shoulder pain syndromes “with no restrictions on race, place, sex, age or ethnicity.”1
  • Outcomes of interest: pain and disability (no restriction on measurement tool used)
  • Pooled standardized mean difference was calculated for outcomes
  • If outcomes were reported at multiple time points, data from the last time point reported was used
  • Pooled effect size and confidence intervals were calculated using a random effects model (due to heterogeneity of included patient populations/conditions studied)
  • Included studies were assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration quality assessment tool

Findings

  • Total of 12 studies included, representing 555 participants 
  • Comparisons studied: placebo (5); steroid treatment (2); exercise and Kinesio tape vs exercise alone (4); therapeutic tape (1)
  • Participants ranged from 15-62 years of age

Kinesio Taping vs Placebo

  • No statistically or clinically significant difference in pain
    • No change in efficacy found with sub-group analysis based on patient diagnosis, or duration of tape application
  • No statistically or clinically significant difference in disability as measured by ROM
    • No change in efficacy found with sub-group analysis based on patient diagnosis, or duration of tape application

Kinesio Taping vs Steroids

  • Population - patients diagnosed with subacromial impingement syndrome
  • No significant difference in VAS for pain during activity or at rest
  • Statistically significant difference in shoulder extension ROM only.
    • Did not reach the level of MCD2

Kinesio Taping and Exercise vs Exercise Alone

  • Kinesio tape plus exercise resulted in a statistically significant difference in VAS at rest.
    • The difference was not clinically significant.3
  • Statistically significant differences in abduction, external rotation and flexion ROM.
    • SMDs for each movement did not reach the level of MCID2 for any movement.
  • 2 studies employed the SPADI scale. Pain and disability decreased significantly for Kinesio taping plus exercise group
    • Reported SMDs did not reach the level of MCID4
  • No significant difference was seen in total SPADI score.

Kinesio Taping vs Rigid Taping

  • Not included in the meta-analysis due to outcomes considered.1
  • No significant differences in internal rotation, external rotation posterior, total rotation range of motion, shoulder tightness, forward head posture or rounded shoulder posture at final measurement time point.

Discussion

  • “Three systematic reviews have come to the same conclusion that there is insufficient evidence for the efficacy of Kinesio taping to support its use in clinical practice.”1
  • “It should be noted that many clinical trials of Kinesio taping which reported an improvement either did not have a control group or included some exercise programs in both groups.”1

Limitations

  • Limited number of studies included for each comparison
  • Included studies:
    • Lacked detailed reporting of Kinesio tape application technique
    • Included short duration of follow up
    • Employed self-report measures (response bias)
    • Did not report on duration and severity of underlying condition in most cases
  • Some of the included studies were of low quality as per the quality assessment completed by the authors.
  • Although the authors searched numerous databases, CINAHL, Pedro and MEDLINE, common databases for physiotherapy-related research were not included in the search. As a result, some relevant studies may not have been included in this systematic review and meta-analysis.

Relevance to physiotherapy practice in Alberta

Kinesio tape is a common treatment modality employed by physiotherapists. Clinicians who employ the technique must be aware of the evidence related to its use and critically evaluate their practice, use of Kinesio tape and patient outcomes related to its use.

Disclaimer

The purpose of this summary is to highlight recently published research findings that are not openly accessible. Every effort is made to ensure accuracy and clarity of the summary. Readers are encouraged to review the published article in full for further information.


  1. Ghozy S, Dung NM, Morra ME, Morsy S, Elsayed GG, Tran L, Minh LHN, Abbas AS, Loc TTH, Hieu TH, Dung TC, Huy NT. Efficacy of Kinesio Taping in Treatment of Shoulder Pain and Disability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Physiotherapy 2020; 107:176-188.
  2. Muir SW, Corea CL, Beaupre L. Evaluating Change in Clinical Status: Reliability and Measures of Agreement for the Assessment of Glenohumeral Range of Motion. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 2010; 5(3):98-110. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2971638/pdf/najspt-05-098.pdf
  3. Lee JS, Hobden E, Stiell IG, Wells GA. Clinically Important Change in the Visual Analog Scale After Adequate Pain Control. Academic Emergency Medicine 2003; 10(10):1128-1130.
  4. Breckenridge JD, McAuley JH. Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI). Journal of Physiotherapy 2011; 57(3):197 doi: 10.1016/S1836-9553(11)70045-5.