SLR - February 2016 - Jacob Bartoszek

Title: Kinesio Taping Does Not Decrease Swelling in Acute, Lateral Ankle Sprain of Athletes: A Randomised Trial

Reference: Nunes GS, Vargas VZ, Wageck B, Hauphental DP, da Luz CM, de Noronha M. Kinesio Taping Does Not Decrease Swelling in Acute, Lateral Ankle Sprain of Athletes: A Randomised Trial. J Physiother. 2015 Jan; 61(1): 28-33.

Scientific Literature Review

Reviewed By: Jacob Bartoszek, DPM
Residency Program: Aventura Hospital & Medical Center

Podiatric Relevance:
Kinesiology taping is becoming a popular choice for treating acute and chronic injuries of the lower extremity. One of the alleged benefits of using this tape is for anti-inflammatory purposes. This article investigates the tape’s role in reducing swelling in the acute phase of swelling following an ankle sprain.

Methods: A blinded randomized controlled trial consisting of 36 athletes who sustained lateral ankle sprains were given either a therapeutic or inert application of kinesiology tape. Inclusion criteria consisted of visible swelling upon presentation with the injury occurring within past 48-96 hours. Patients with fractures, open wounds, and edema secondary to systemic conditions were excluded. Swelling was measured via volumetry and perimetry of the affected lower extremity at baseline, three days after application, and fifteen days after application. A practitioner not associated with the study applied the tape, and gave instructions for icing and elevating during the first three days.

Results: Of the 36 original participants, two were lost to follow-up at day three and an additional nine patients were lost to follow-up at day fifteen. The remaining participants in the experimental group showed no increased reduction in swelling as compared with the control group. At day three, volumetric analysis and perimetric analysis showed a mean difference of -2ml (95 percent CI –28 to 32) and 0.2 cm (95 percent CI –0.6 to 1.0) respectively between the two groups. Additionally, relative volumetry (measuring ankle volume to body mass) revealed a mean difference of 0 percent (95 percent CI –0.1 to 0.1) between the groups. Results were similar at day fifteen.

Conclusions: This study illustrates that the use of kinesiology tape is ineffective at promoting increased lymphatic drainage in the acute phase of an ankle sprain. While adjunctive therapies may have some benefit, this study also highlights the importance of ice and elevation in the treatment of acute injuries. This study is limited by the small number of participants in a single institution. The efficacy of kinesiology tape appears to be mixed in the literature; further studies need to be done in order to evaluate whether this is an effective treatment modality in the acute injury setting.

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