Knee Taping

Original Editor - Rachael Lowe

Top Contributors - Michelle Lee and Wanda van Niekerk  

Introduction

Taping is frequently used in the field of rehabilitation as a means of treatment for knee injuries however much of the evidence is contradictory. Taping is one of the adjunct treatments that we as physiotherapists might use with our patients in combination with well supported techniques such as patient education and exercise therapy.  We could argue that if taping has a positive effect, be it placebo or mechanical, then we should use it. 

There is good reason to use taping for sporting injuries of the knee, however there is contradicting evidence for using taping to improve lower limb biomechanics to reduce pain and improve function in conditions such as PFPS[1].

This article presents a variety of techniques of taping in the knee and their possible indications.  

Knee Taping Techniques

Patella (McConnell) Taping

The McConnell taping technique was developed to correct altered patellofemoral kinematics and permit participation in normal daily activity and to allow the patient to engage in physical therapy exercise pain free. There are several variations of the taping procedure depending on the specific needs of the patient (eg, glide, tilt, and/or rotation). This form of Patella taping has been reported to reduce anterior knee pain, regulate the mediolateral pulling force of the patella, improve joint alignment and facilitate the vastus medialis obliqus. Although it has been reported to reduce pain and improve function in people with patellofemoral pain syndrome during activities of daily living, strong evidence to identify the underlying mechanisms is still not available[2]  Kinesio taping technique used for muscles can relieve pain but cannot change patellar alignment, unlike McConnell taping. Both patellar tapings are used differently for PFPS patients and substantially improve muscle activity, motor function, and quality of life[3].

Read more about Patella Taping 

Tendinopathy Taping

Many athletes say they experience less pain when wearing a strap (anecdotal evidence). However, there is currently little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a patellar strap and sports tape in patellar tendinopathy. De Vries[4] provides a nice summary of hypotheses for these potential effects but concludes by saying more research is needed to confirm these hypotheses:

  • Increases the patella-patellar tendon angle and reduce the effective length of the patellar tendon, this might reduce the strain on the tendon.
  • Improve the proprioception and hereby helps to protect the joint from re-injury or it might change the sensory input. An increased sensitisation in patients with patellar tendinopathy, this low pain threshold might be influenced by the strap and could therefore result in a decrease in the amount of pain that is perceived.
  • By reducing the load on the tendon, thetaping may improve the balance between load and load capacity in the long term. A gradually increasing load in which a small amount of pain is allowed is thought to be important for the recovery of a tendon. 

MCL Taping

Taping to support the medial collateral ligament after injury is common practice, particularly on return to sport.  Although supported by anecdotal evidence there is no research evidence to support this technique.

The same technique can be employed on the lateral aspect of the knee to support the lateral aspect of the knee for example in LCL injury.

Kinesiology Taping and Lymphatic Drainage

Kinesiology taping is still a relativley new adjunct to physiotherapy therefore research is a little sparce, therefore clinical experience and case resports are the preliminary resource for evidence of application. The theory behind using kinesio taping is that when applied it assists in providing a 'lift' to the skin allowing freer movement of fluid under the tape, this has been show to be most effective with smaller / thinner strips of the tape. [5] [6]

Here is an example of the results kinesiology tape has on lymphatic drainage and haematomas. 

Ktape lympatic drain.jpg

Related Pages

Recent Related Research (from Pubmed)

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References

  1. Yu H, Randhawa K, Côté P, Optima Collaboration. The Effectiveness of Physical Agents for Lower-Limb Soft Tissue Injuries: A Systematic Review. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2016 Jun 6(0):1-01.
  2. Marc Campolo, Jenie Babu, Katarzyna Dmochowska, Shiju Scariah, Jincy Varughese. A COMPARISON OF TWO TAPING TECHNIQUES (KINESIO AND MCCONNELL) AND THEIR EFFECT ON ANTERIOR KNEE PAIN DURING FUNCTIONAL ACTIVITIES. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Apr; 8(2): 105–110.
  3. Chang WD, Chen FC, Lee CL, Lin HY, Lai PT. Effects of Kinesio taping versus McConnell taping for patellofemoral pain syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015 Jun 21;2015.
  4. de Vries AJ, van den Akker-Scheek I, Diercks RL, Zwerver J, van der Worp H. Effect of patellar strap and sports tape on jumper's knee symptoms: protocol of a randomised controlled trial. J Physiother. 2013 Dec 1;59(4):270.
  5. Jacobsen FT. Kinesio Taping & its effects beneath the skin. Therapy Expo. 2016
  6. Białoszewski D, Woźniak W, Zarek S. Clinical efficacy of kinesiology taping in reducing edema of the lower limbs in patients treated with the ilizarov method--preliminary report. Ortopedia, traumatologia, rehabilitacja. 2008 Dec;11(1):46-54.