Among a group of patients diagnosed with shoulder impingement sydrome (SIS), the use of kinesiological taping (KT) led to an immediate and significant improvement in pain intensity during movement and during the night.

The study, “Clinical effectiveness of kinesiological taping on pain and pain-free shoulder range of motion in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome: a randomized, double blinded, placebo-controlled trial,” involved 15 people who had been diagnosed with SIS.

The subjects were randomly assigned to either the experimental group, where they all received the same application of KT, or the control group, where they all received the same neutral placebo application of KT.

“KT has several benefits, depending on the amount of stretch applied to the tape during application,” state the study’s authors. “It has been hypothesized to provide positional stimulus through the skin, allow for ‘more space’ by lifting fascia and soft tissue, provide sensory stimulation to assist or limit motion, and aid in removal of edema.”

The main outcome measures for this study were pain intensity during movement and also pain intensity at night, both of which were measured using a visual analog scale, along with pain-free active range of moton of abduction, flexion and scapular plane elevation.

These outcome measures were assessed at baseline, before any of the taping procedures were applied. Once the KT or placebo KT had been applied, the same assessments were made. Subjects were instructed to wear the tape for three days, remove it on the afternoon of the third day, and return to the clinic for another evaluation of these outcome measures.

Once this three-day assessment had occurred, KT was applied once again, and the subjects were instructed to wear it for two more days, remove it on the afternoon of the sixth day, and return to the clinic once again for the one-week assessment of outcome measures the next morning.

Results of the research revealed a significantly greater decrease in pain intensity during movement and at night immediately after KT, as compared to placebo KT. There was no significant difference in pain intensity or pain-free shoulder range of motion between the two groups after one week.

“The fact that the experimental group showed a significantly greater improvement in pain intensity immediately after KT but did not maintain this pattern after one week may suggest that the immediate effect of KT is the important part of the intervention in the experimental group,” state the study’s authors. “KT can be prescribed for patients with SIS when pain relief is the short-term goal of the treatment. 

Authors: Hassan Shakeri, Roshanak Keshavarz, Amir Massoud Arab and Ismaeil Ebrahimi.

Sources: Department of Physical Therapy, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Originally published December 2013 in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 8(6), 800-810