Purpose: It is an established fact that post-operative (p.o.) soft-tissue swelling and lymphoedema after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) have a major influence on the p.o. early functional outcome. Kinesio taping has a proven clinical effect in increasing lymph drainage. Despite the decades of experience gained and the assumed positive effects, hardly any investigations have been conducted to date on the influence of Kinesio taping on the p.o. healing process after TKA. The objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis that Kinesio taping used as a lymph application leads to a reduction of p.o. soft-tissue swelling. As a secondary objective, it was to be tested whether there is an effect on skin temperature as a surrogate parameter for dermal micro-circulation.
Methods: In this prospective study with a historical control (A-V Impulse System™ group), 42 subjects were included and treated with Kinesio taping after implantation of a TKA. The patients of the study group were treated immediately p.o. with Kinesio® Tex Gold™ fan cut tape as a lymph application with a common base. A thermographic temperature determination of the knee joint operated on was performed on each patient in the supine position every day from the first to the seventh p.o. day. The leg circumference was documented daily at eight specified measuring points on both lower limbs. As a statistical analytical approach, the so-called principal component analysis was used. An analysis of variance was performed. The significance level was set at p < 0.001.
Results: The course of soft-tissue swelling of the study group did not differ from that of the control group at any point in time. For the temperature course of the medial wound aspect, no difference was seen between the Kinesio taping study group and the A-V Impulse System™ group. In contrast, the temperature course of the lateral wound aspect showed a reproducibly higher temperature in the Kinesio tape group than in the control group (0.6 °C (0.5-0.8), p < 0.001).
Conclusion: The hypothesis of the study that Kinesio taping as a lymph application induces a reduction of soft-tissue swelling after TKA must be rejected on the basis of the present data. Solely the temperature of the lateral wound aspect was higher in the Kinesio taping group than in the control group, so that an increased blood circulation can be assumed here. Considering that the actively working A-V Impulse System™ used in the control group also increases local blood circulation, the effect of the passive Kinesio tape is surprising. However, this was not reflected in a quicker wound healing, as the day of last wound secretion was the same in both groups. Kinesio taping as a lymph application represents an equivalent alternative to the A-V Impulse System™ for therapy after total knee arthroplasty with regard to soft-tissue swelling and wound healing.
Keywords: A-V Impulse System™; Kinesio taping; Skin temperature; Swelling; Total knee arthroplasty.