39 post-chest surgery (median sternotomy) patients were split into two groups (no treatment and treatment with kinesiology tape) to determine if the application of kinesiology tape (Kinesio® brand) made any difference to their recovery.
The tape was placed on 4 areas of the “taped” patients – on the upper chest under each collarbone and to each side of the abdomen above the hip (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Tape placement locations (the stars are tape locations, the dashed line is the incision line)
The tape was applied in a star-like pattern using the fan-shaped “drainage” technique (figure 2).
Figure 2: Kinesiology Tape pattern at each location. Coloured pieces were used in this demonstration to easily see each strip.
The results were indeed notable in that those who received the kinesiology tape intervention had statistically less perception of pain, felt they could breathe more easily and also consumed less pain medication.
The theory for how kinesiology tape works to control pain is most simply described as the skin’s input to the brain about the contact with the tape uses up some of the pathways to the brain that would otherwise just be sending pain signals – “The Gate-Control Theory”. People intuitively use this same mechanism by rubbing an area of pain.
Considering the low cost and low-risk of adding kinesiology tape to a post-surgical treatment routine, this study was a very encouraging for broader use of this modality for more serious types of pain.