Context: Taping is commonly used in the management of several musculoskeletal conditions, including patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). Specific guidelines for taping are unknown.
Objective: To investigate the efficacy of knee taping in the management of PFPS. Our hypothesis was that tension taping and exercise would be superior to placebo taping and exercise as well as to exercise or taping alone.
Data sources: The PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Source, and CINAHL databases were reviewed for English-language randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the efficacy of various taping techniques that were published between 1995 and April 2015. Keywords utilized included taping, McConnell, kinesio-taping, kinesiotaping, patellofemoral pain, and knee.
Study selection: Studies included consisted of RCTs (level 1 or 2) with participants of all ages who had anterior knee or patellofemoral pain symptoms and had received nonsurgical management using any taping technique.
Study design: Systematic review.
Level of evidence: Level 2.
Data extraction: A checklist method was used to determine selection, performance, detection, and attrition bias for each article. A quality of evidence grading was then referenced using the validated PEDro database for RCTs. Three difference comparison groups were compared: tension taping and exercise versus placebo taping and exercise (group 1), placebo taping and exercise versus exercise alone (group 2), and tension taping and exercise versus taping alone (group 3).
Results: Five RCTs with 235 total patients with multiple intervention arms were included. Taping strategies included McConnell and Kinesiotaping. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores indicated improvement in all 3 comparison groups (group 1: 91 patients, 39% of total, mean VAS improvement 44.9 [tension taping + exercise] vs 66 [placebo taping + exercise]; group 2: 56 patients, 24% of total, mean VAS improvement 66 [placebo taping + exercise] vs 47.6 [exercise alone]; and group 3: 112 patients, 48% of total, mean VAS improvement 44.9 [tension taping + exercise] vs 14.1 [taping alone]).
Conclusion: This systematic review supports knee taping only as an adjunct to traditional exercise therapy for PFPS; however, it does not support taping in isolation.
Keywords: Kinesiotaping; McConnell; patellofemoral pain syndrome; taping.