A 2009 study on the efficacy of Kinesio Tape for whiplash injuries has demonstrated that Kinesio Tape, when applied with the correct tension, causes “statistically significant improvement” in patients with whiplash-associated disorders (WADs).
As part of a widespread investigation of the efficacy of Kinesio Tape for various musculoskeletal disorders, researchers decided to test the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape for WADs. Since the tape had already demonstrated short-term effectiveness for shoulder pain, assessing its effect on neck pain was a reasonable next step.
Titled “Short-Term Effects of Cervical Kinesio Taping on Pain and Cervical Range of Motion in Patients With Acute Whiplash Injury: Randomized Clinical Trial,” the study followed 41 patients – 21 females and 20 males – to assess the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape in controlling pain and improving range of motion.
Those selected to take part in the Kinesio Tape study were required to meet a number of specific criteria to be eligible for participation. Eligibility was based on patients’ meeting the “Quebec Task Force Classification of WAD II,” which included neck pain and musculoskeletal signs, such as restricted range of motion, though none of the participants experienced conduction loss during clinical neurological examination. All participants’ pain resulted from motor vehicle accidents that had occurred less than 40 days prior to the onset of pain, and all had been referred to a physical therapist by their primary care physician within a specific 16-month period. Numerous other conditions were also met for participation. (These conditions are described more fully at the above link.)
Prior to participation, patients self-reported various data, which included answering the 10-question Neck Disability Index (NDI) assessment. The assessment measured each patient’s perception of his/her level of disability.
Test subjects were randomly divided into two groups: the experimental group and the control, or placebo, group. The experimental group received Kinesio Tape applications to the cervical spine, using tension, while the placebo group received a “sham” Kinesio Tape application, without tension. (Use of appropriate tension, or stretch, when applying Kinesio Tape provides much of the tape’s therapeutic benefit.)
Before the study, patients had been instructed not to take analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs for 72 hours prior to the start of the study. A “blind” assessment then measured neck pain and cervical range of motion at three different points in the process: at the start of the study (known as “baseline”), immediately after Kinesio Tape application, and 24 hours after tape application. Pain measurement was based on a subjective 11-point scale.
Results of the study indicated that, while the group receiving the “tensioned” Kinesio Tape application experienced greater improvement than the control group, which received the “non-tensioned” tape application, the “changes were small and possibly of minimal clinical significance.” However, the study results did confirm those of an earlier test series, which had reached a similar conclusion about the efficacy of Kinesio Tape for pain reduction and improved range of motion. Additionally, the magnitude of the improvement in cervical range-of-motion was similar to that found in another study which measured the improvement in range of motion among patients suffering from shoulder pain.
The cervical study positively sums up researchers’ findings: “The results of this study provide preliminary evidence for the application of Kinesio Taping in the management of patients with acute WAD.”