A multicenter, single-masked study of medial, neutral, and lateral patellar taping in individuals with patellofemoral pain syndrome

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Aug;33(8):437-43; discussion 444-8. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2003.33.8.437.


Study design: A multicenter, single-masked study of patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) using a repeated-measures design.

Objective: To compare 3 different methods of patellar taping for individuals with PFPS.

Background: Patellar taping is commonly used as a treatment for PFPS. It is commonly thought that taping works by medially realigning the patella. However, comparisons have been rarely made with other methods of taping which attempt to realign the patella in different directions.

Methods and measures: Seventy-one patients with PFPS (39 men, 32 women; average age +/- SD, 34 +/- 10 years) from 3 different treatment centers were tested. Each patient performed 4 single step-downs from a standard 8-inch (20.3-cm) platform, initially with the patella untaped and then with the patella taped in a medial, neutral, and lateral direction. Pain was recorded on a standard 11-point numerical pain rating scale. The sequence of taping was randomly allocated and patients were masked to the method used. The methods of taping were compared using repeated-measures generalized linear model analysis.

Results: All methods of taping significantly decreased pain when compared to the untaped condition (P<.0001). Neutral- and lateral-glide techniques produced a significantly greater degree of pain relief (P<.0001) than the medial-glide technique.

Conclusion: In this study, patellar taping produced an immediate decrease in pain in patients with PFPS, irrespective of how taping was applied. These data raise questions as to the mechanism of action of patellar taping. Furthermore, these results suggest that it is unlikely that taping works by altering patellar position.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Management*
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*