Is Kinesio Tape Able to Help with Osteoarthritis?


You have probably observed some athletes sticking strips of colored tape on their knees for the purpose of performance enhancement. However, what you may not be aware of is that this tape, known as Kinesio tape may also offer pain relief benefits to patients struggling with osteoarthritis.

Kinesio tape is a stretchy cotton strip that has adhesive on one side, thus allowing it to be applied on an affected body part. This elastic therapeutic tape provides stability while also allowing more flexibility than regular athletic tape. 

In the latest guidelines on osteoarthritis treatment, the American College of Rheumatology has made recommendations on the use of Kinesio tape for hand and knee osteoarthritis. In this post, orthopedic surgeon Dominic King takes us through the benefits of Kinesio taping as well as some of the tips on proper application. 


Benefits of Taping

According to Dr. King, taping is designed to help limit motion. If you are experiencing pain in your joints due to arthritis, limiting motion can help to alleviate some of it. Having said that, it is important to balance motion and immobilization since too much of the latter can make the joints stiffer. Kinesio tape is therefore ideal since it not only helps to limit motion but is also stretchy enough to provide room for more motion than you would have with normal athletic tape.

So, while all tapes provide support to the joints, Kinesio tape offers more dynamic support without the stiffness that is experienced when wearing braces or traditional tapes. An added benefit of Kinesio tape is that it provides support to the muscles surrounding the joint, thus relaxing them more and minimizing strain.


How to Apply Kinesio Tape Correctly

In order for Kinesio tape to work effectively, it needs to be applied correctly. Dr. King recommends pulling it just enough to create a decent amount of tension. He also advises patients to get instructions on how to apply the tape from a physical or occupational therapist. 


Which Joints Benefit the Most from Kinesio Tape

As Dr. King posits, the carpometacarpal joint, which is located at the base of the thumb, responds best to Kinesio tape. This is one of the joints that is commonly affected by osteoarthritis. However, Kinesio tape may also be effective for individuals who suffer from arthritic knees.


Bottom Line

While some studies have attributed Kinesio tape to a reduction in joint pain, many experts are still skeptical about its effectiveness in managing arthritis. Nevertheless, Dr. King has no reservations about recommending it to patients since the risk of harm is low.

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