Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a common condition presenting to physiotherapy and sports medicine practices. Despite its prevalence, the aetiology, pathogenesis, and recommended treatment remain unclear. One component of treatment for PFPS that has been subjected to scrutiny is patellar taping. This taping was designed to realign the patella within the femoral trochlea, thus reducing pain from PFPS and improving both quadriceps and patellofemoral joint function. Clinical and research findings confirm that the pain associated with PFPS is significantly reduced with patellar taping. Therefore, research has aimed at determining the mechanisms of this pain relief. The means by which patellar tape can relieve pain may provide insight into the aetiology and risk factors for PFPS, thus allowing more appropriately designed treatment regimes and preventative strategies. There is evidence to suggest that patellar tape improves patella alignment (measured radiographically) and quadriceps function (torque production and extensor moments). Evidence that patellar tape enhances the activation of individual vastii (magnitude or timing) is limited in quality and quantity, which probably reflects the difficulties inherent in measuring this complex question. There is preliminary evidence for improved knee control during gait in association with patellar tape. This paper critically reviews the studies that have examined the effects of patellar taping and makes informed recommendations for further research and clinical practice.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.