Objective: This study aimed to assess the effects of kinesio taping (KT) on pain, paresthesia, functional status, and overall health status in patients with symptomatic thoracic outlet syndrome (sTOS).
Methods: A single-blind placebo-controlled design was employed in this study. The study duration was defined as 12 months. Analyses were performed on 60 patients with sTOS randomly assigned to KT (4 men and 26 women; mean age=33.5 years, range=20-46 years) and control groups (5 men and 25 women; mean age=26 years, range=20-43 years). KT was applied to the KT group three times. The control group received placebo taping. Pain and paresthesia were evaluated using the visual analogue scale (VAS) pain (10 cm) and VAS paresthesia (10 cm). The upper limb function was assessed using the disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand (DASH) questionnaire. The overall health status was evaluated based on the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP). Each assessment was carried out at baseline (t0), posttreatment (t1), and 8 weeks after baseline (t2).
Results: In the KT group, except the social isolation domain of the NHP, all outcome measures showed improvement from t0 to t1. At the second follow-up visit (t2), improvements remained visible compared with baseline. However, none of the variables improved from t1 to t2. Otherwise, all measures deteriorated slightly, and the deteriorations in VAS for pain, NHP pain, NHP sleep, and NHP physical abilities were statistically significant (p=0.041, p=0.048, p=0.013, and p=0.016, respectively). In the control group, only VAS for paresthesia and NHP emotional reaction showed improvement over time (p=0.002 and p=0.044, respectively). When changes in outcome measures between the two groups were compared, except NHP emotional reaction and NHP social isolation, median changes (from t0 to t1) were higher in the KT group than in the control group (p<0.05 for all variables). Regarding VAS pain, VAS paresthesia, DASH, and three NHP domains (energy level, pain, and physical abilities), changes from t0 to t2 were also higher in the KT group (p<0.05 for all variables).
Conclusion: KT can provide benefits in terms of relieving pain and paresthesia, as well as improving the upper limb function and quality of life in patients with sTOS.
Level of evidence: Level II, Therapeutic study.