How many of your patients or athletes have come to you and said “I’ve got this knot on my [body part] that I can’t seem to get out?” Myofascial pain syndrome is not only incredibly common, but, as the name suggests, can be incredibly painful. It’s a clinician’s job to find and treat the cause of the myofascial trigger point, which have traditionally been managed with methods such as:
- Ischemic compression
- Spray and stretch
- Manual pressure release
- Dry Needling
Left to explore was the use of kinesiology taping to effectively treat myofascial pain syndrome. In late 2016, researchers published a study to investigate this option with the hope that kinesiology tape reduced the stiffness and pain associated with myofascial trigger points (Wen Chao et al. 2016). Armed with two purposes, the researchers sought out to:
- Compare the effects of manual pressure release and manual pressure release plus kinesiology taping on the pressure pain threshold, muscle stiffness, and the vibration amplitude/frequency of muscle contraction in subjects with upper trapezius myofascial trigger points
- Explore relationships between the two to understand possible mechanisms of action of manual pressure release and kinesiology tape in these subjects.
How to enhance manual trigger point therapy with kinesiology tape
After an initial assessment, 31 participants were split between a manual pressure release group (15 participants) and the manual pressure release plus kinesiology-taping group (16 participants). Each participant received the following pressure release protocol:
- Patients were placed in the supine position with the cervical spine in a neutral position, encouraged to relax as much as possible.
- The therapist found the myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle and applied pressure gradually with the thumb until the participant reported a ‘moderate but easily tolerable’ pain value. This level of pressure was maintained until release of the tissue barrier was felt.
- The pressure was increased until a new barrier was reached. This process was repeated until there was no myofascial trigger point tension or one minute had elapsed, whichever occurred first (Wen Chao et al. 2016).
Those participants in the kinesiology taping group also received the following taping technique for myofascial pain syndrome:
- One Y-piece of kinesiology tape was used to tape the upper trapezius muscle.
- Participants were asked to sit in an erect posture with the head tilted to the affected side.
- The anchor of the tape was applied to the insertion of the upper trapezius muscle, with the two tails enveloping the muscle belly by palpation.
- Subjects wore the tape for 3 days, then had it reapplied by the same therapist (Wen Chao et al. 2016).
Outcome measurements for each group were collected at baseline, post-intervention, and at a seven-day follow-up.
The researchers concluded that, while both manual pressure release alone and with kinesiology tape were effective in reducing pain, the group that received the kinesiology tape found a greater effect on muscle stiffness and contraction amplitude:
- Pressure pain threshold improved significantly in both groups
- Significant improvement in muscle stiffness in the manual pressure release plus kinesiology-taping group as compared to the manual pressure release only group
- Mechanomyography amplitude in the manual pressure release plus kinesiology-taping group was significantly higher than that of the manual pressure release group.
“The effects of manual pressure release plus taping are better than those of manual pressure release only… Our results showed that additional application of kinesiology tape plus manual pressure release resulted in a significant improvement not only in pain intensity but also in MMG amplitude and tissue displacement. Our results support the additional effectiveness of the kinesiology taping over myofascial trigger points.” (Wen Chao et al. 2016)
How have you used kinesiology tape in your practice to treat myofascial pain? Comment below and share with your colleagues!
Wen Chao et al. 2016. Kinesio taping and manual pressure release: Short-term effects in subjects with myofasical trigger point. J Hand Ther. 29(1):23-9.