Objective: Kinesio taping (KT) is used to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries. This systematic review examines the evidence for the effectiveness of KT in improving patient outcomes following musculoskeletal injury.
Materials and methods: A literature search (October 2011) was performed using PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, SportsDiscus, and Cochrane databases. The literature search employed the keywords "kinesio tap*" or "kinesiotap*" or "athletic tap*" and "performance" or "function" or "strength" or "activity" or "pain" or "muscle" and "athlet*" or "sport*." These searches yielded a total of 727 articles, which were reviewed thoroughly to identify suitable articles.
Results: Six studies met our criteria and were included in this systematic review. Two of these studies examined musculoskeletal injuries in the lower extremity and reported that the use of KT did not affect outcome measures. Two studies examined musculoskeletal injuries involving the spine. Treatment with KT significantly improved pain levels and range of motion in patients with acute whiplash-associated disorders of the cervical spine both immediately and 24 hours after injury; however, the long-term results did not differ between the 2 groups. Subjects with chronic low back pain treated with KT and exercise, KT alone, or exercise alone experienced significant improvement in short-term pain, while the exercise-only group also showed significantly less long-term disability. Two studies examined musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder. The first of these found insufficient evidence to indicate that KT decreases pain and disability in young patients with shoulder impingement/tendinitis, while the second suggested that KT may provide short-term pain relief for patients with shoulder impingement. This systematic review found insufficient evidence to support the use of KT following musculoskeletal injury, although a perceived benefit cannot be discounted. There are few high-quality studies examining the use of KT following musculoskeletal injury.