Does scapula taping facilitate recovery for shoulder impingement symptoms? A pilot randomized controlled trial

J Man Manip Ther. 2009;17(1):E6-E13. doi: 10.1179/jmt.2009.17.1.6E.


Scapula taping is a commonly used adjunctive treatment for shoulder impingement pathology. However, this intervention has not previously been subject to formal investigation. A pilot single-blind randomized controlled trial was conducted to evaluate facilitatory taping as an adjunct to routine physiotherapy management. Twenty-two subjects with unilateral shoulder impingement symptoms were randomized into a taping with routine physiotherapy or a routine physiotherapy only group. The intervention group had scapula taping applied three times per week for the first two weeks of their treatment. All subjects were assessed at baseline, then at 2 and 6 weeks after the commencement of treatment. Pain and functional ability were assessed using the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, range of shoulder elevation, and self-reported pain on elevation. At 2 weeks, the taping group demonstrated a strong trend toward reduced pain both on self-reported activity (SPADI pain subscale mean for taping 27.0 versus 41.5 for control) and pain during measured abduction (mean VAS 22.8 for taped, 46.8 for control), statistical power being limited by small sample size. No similar trend was evident in the SPADI disability subscale. The magnitude of the differences was reduced at 6-week follow-up. This study provides preliminary evidence for a short-term role for scapula taping as an adjunct to routine physiotherapy in the management of shoulder impingement symptoms but also highlights the need for consideration on a case basis relating to risk factors for skin reaction.

Keywords: Adhesive Tape; Rehabilitation; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome.