After receiving a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis, you would expect to experience many complications with the knee joint. What is often overlooked is how attempting to ease the pain with corrective movements can affect the rest of the leg.
The torque production and strength of the quadriceps muscle is commonly compromised in patients with knee osteoarthritis. According to T-Anandkumar (2014), there are multiple mechanisms that lead to this weakness:
- Arthrogenic muscle inhibition
- Atrophy due to prolonged disuse
The authors also noted that reduced quadriceps strength can also increase the risk of re-injury to the knee joint and decrease knee stability.
So how can knee osteoarthritis-related quadriceps weakness be improved? Researchers Anandkumar and colleagues made it their mission to test kinesiology tape’s effect on the strength of the quadriceps, as well as pain and performance.
Kinesiology Taping for Knee Osteoarthritis Pain
Forty subjects with knee osteoarthritis between the ages of 45 and 60 were randomly assigned to either a experimental kinesiology taping group or control kinesiology taping group. In the initial assessment, the participants were screened for their peak quadriceps torque in a seated position in 90 degrees hip and knee flexion. Afterward, measurements of pain and performance were taken from the standardized stair-climbing task test, measured by “the time taken to ascend and descend five stairs ‘as quickly and as safely’ as possible” (T-Anandkumar, et al. 2014). The subjects were taped, rested for 30 minutes, and then were retested in these areas.
The Kinesiology Taping Technique
The experimental and control group received two separate kinesiology tape techniques. The experimental group received three “I” strips:
- Strip one was based 10 cm below the anterior superior iliac spine and stretched with 50%–75% tension along the course of the rectus femoris to the superior border of the patella. Finally the knee was flexed to 45° and the tape anchored without tension over the superior border of the patella.
- Strip two was based below the greater trochanter and stretched with 50%–75% tension along the course of the vastus lateralis to the lateral border of the patella. Finally, the knee was flexed to 45° and the tape was anchored without tension around the lateral border of patella towards the tibial tuberosity.
- Strip three was based in the middle 1/3rd of the medial aspect of the thigh and applied with 50% to 75% tension along the course of vastus medialis towards the medial border of the patella. Finally, the knee was flexed to 45° and the tape was anchored without tension around the medial border of patella ending towards the tibial tuberosity. (T-Anandkumar, et al. 2014).
The control group receiving sham taping with the same protocol as the experimental group, except there was no stretch applied in the tape and the knee was not flexed at any point of the application.
In the post-tape assessment, the experimental group showed significant improvement in peak quadriceps as well as pain and performance of standardized stair-climbing task test when compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that the “application of therapeutic kinesiology taping is effective in improving isokinetic quadriceps torque, standardized stair-climbing task test and reducing pain in knee osteoarthritis” (T- Anandkumar, et al. 2014).
Give this kinesiology taping technique for knee osteoarthritis-related quadriceps pain and share your results in the comments below!
T- Anandkumar, et al. 2014. Efficacy of kinesio taping on isokinetic quadriceps torque in knee osteoarthritis: a double blinded randomized controlled study Physiotherapy Theory and Practice. 30(6):375-383