Effect of taping on spinal pain and disability: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials

Phys Ther. 2015 Apr;95(4):493-506. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20130619. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Background: Taping is a widely used therapeutic tool for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, nevertheless its effectiveness is still uncertain.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to conduct a current review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) concerning the effects of elastic and nonelastic taping on spinal pain and disability.

Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PEDro, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Scopus, ISI Web of Knowledge, and SPORTDiscus databases were searched.

Study selection: All published RCTs on symptomatic adults with a diagnosis of specific or nonspecific spinal pain, myofascial pain syndrome, or whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) were considered.

Data extraction: Two reviewers independently selected the studies and extracted the results. The quality of individual studies was assessed using the PEDro scale, and the evidence was assessed using GRADE criteria.

Data synthesis: Eight RCTs were included. Meta-analysis of 4 RCTs on low back pain demonstrated that elastic taping does not significantly reduce pain or disability immediately posttreatment, with a standardized mean difference of -0.31 (95% confidence interval=-0.64, 0.02) and -0.23 (95% confidence interval=-0.49, 0.03), respectively. Results from single trials indicated that both elastic and nonelastic taping are not better than placebo or no treatment on spinal disability. Positive results were found only for elastic taping and only for short-term pain reduction in WAD or specific neck pain. Generally, the effect sizes were very small or not clinically relevant, and all results were supported by low-quality evidence.

Limitations: The paucity of studies does not permit us to draw any final conclusions.

Conclusion: Although different types of taping were investigated, the results of this systematic review did not show any firm support for their effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Tape*
  • Humans
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Neck Pain / therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whiplash Injuries / therapy*