Kinesiotaping for the Rehabilitation of Rotator Cuff-Related Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Sports Health. 2021 Mar;13(2):161-172. doi: 10.1177/1941738120944254. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Background: Kinesiotaping (KT) has been widely used in clinical practice. Current evidence is insufficient to support the use of KT for treating rotator cuff-related shoulder pain (RCRSP), as its mid- and long-term effects have not been investigated.

Hypotheses: Individuals using KT will achieve faster improvements in symptoms and functional limitations compared with those not using it. They will also present a greater increase in pain-free range of motion (ROM) and acromiohumeral distance (AHD) at the end of the treatment.

Study design: Randomized controlled trial (NCT02881021).

Level of evidence: Therapy, level 1b.

Methods: A total of 52 individuals with RCRSP, randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups (experimental: KT; control: no-KT), underwent a 6-week rehabilitation program composed of 10 physical therapy sessions. KT was added to the treatment of the KT group. Symptoms and functional limitations were assessed using the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire (primary outcome); Brief Pain Inventory (BPI); and Western Ontario Rotator Cuff (WORC) index at baseline, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 6 months. AHD, pain-free ROM, and full ROM were measured at baseline and at week 6. The effects of KT were assessed using a nonparametric analysis for longitudinal data.

Results: No significant group × time interactions (0.112 ≤ P ≤ 0.726) were found for all outcomes. Time effects were observed as both groups showed significant improvements for all studied outcomes (DASH, BPI, and WORC, p < 0.0001; AHD, p = 0.017; pain-free ROM, p < 0.0001; and full ROM abduction, p ≤ 0.0001).

Conclusion: Whereas symptoms, functional limitations, ROM, and AHD improved in both groups, the addition of KT did not lead to superior outcomes compared with exercise-based treatment alone, in the mid and long term, for individuals with RCRSP.

Clinical relevance: Clinicians should not expect supplementary mid- or long-term gains with KT to reduce pain, improve shoulder function and ROM, or increase AHD if a rehabilitation program focusing on shoulder neuromuscular control is concurrently provided as treatment for individuals with RCRSP.

Keywords: elastic tape; kinesiology taping; physical therapy; rotator cuff; shoulder pain; tendon injuries.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Tape*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / complications*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Single-Blind Method

Associated data