BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
The back pain treatment marketplace is a crowded one. One of the more colourful options available is Kinesio Tape; soft, elastic adhesive tape that is applied to the painful body region. The proposed physiological rationale is that the tape creates 'convolutions' on the skin which reduces mechanical nociceptor activity, improves blood flow and reduces pain. The treatment became very popular following aggressive marketing campaigns at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics games, and has been enthusiastically adopted by many physiotherapists. Since then there has been a steady accumulation of research evidence related to the effectiveness of this treatment for various clinical conditions. This systematic review aimed to gather and synthesise the findings of studies that investigate the effectiveness of Kinesio Taping for people with chronic low back pain.
The researchers searched biomedical databases to find randomised controlled trials that assessed the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape for adults with chronic back pain. They conducted several meta-analyses to estimate the pooled effects on pain and disability. They separated the analyses to look at whether Kinesio Tape was more effective than nothing, than placebo, and whether it improved outcomes when added to another intervention. The researchers followed best-practice methods to ensure they included all the relevant published studies, avoided errors when screening, judged the risk of bias associated with included studies, and assessed the overall quality of the evidence.
They found 11 relevant RCTs, which were generally of fairly small size (range n=20 to n=148), and methodological quality was generally quite good. None of the studies reported long-term outcomes.