Written By: William Oswald, PT, DPT
Kinesiology tape (KT) is a cotton and elastic tape with an acrylic adhesive. It is often used to encourage movement with less pain, but can also be used for edema and effusion. Until recently, there hasn’t been much research on kinesiology taping and its effects on edema. A study published in June of 2022 by Sobiech, et al. in the Journal of Clinical Medicine showed a decrease in lower leg edema after knee replacement surgery. Kinesiology tape was applied to 42 patients after surgery for five consecutive days compared to 40 post-surgical patients without KT tape application. There was a statistically significant difference in swelling between the taping and non-taping groups at the fibula head and below on the eighth day after surgery.
The theory behind using kinesiology taping for swelling is the opposite of the vasoconstriction effects of cryotherapy. KT tape works by lifting the skin and increasing circulation subcutaneously. The kinesiology tape is applied in a proximal to distal direction with a fan cut. The taped area should be stretched with “paper off” or a minimal amount of tension (see picture 1). When applying the tape with this technique, convolutions are created, increasing the interstitial space and promoting post-surgical healing. On average, the KT tape stays on for 3-5 days. Do not use the KT tape when the patient has an infection or cellulitis, over an open wound, a deep vein thrombosis, or a previous allergic reaction to the tape.
Applying the KT tape correctly can be a low-cost, efficient intervention for patients with swelling that can make post-surgical rehabilitation more effective. Want to learn more benefits and limitations of kinesiology tape? Sign up for my Kinesiology Taping Certification CE course via Live Stream or In-Person on January 21, 2023. We will dive deeper into this technique and the many other ways to use KT tape as an adjunct to your treatment. Explore even more upcoming Comprehensive Rehab CE courses below!
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Sobiech, M., Czępińska, A., Zieliński, G., Zawadka, M., & Gawda, P. (2022). Does Application of Lymphatic Drainage with Kinesiology Taping Have Any Effect on the Extent of Edema and Range of Motion in Early Postoperative Recovery following Primary Endoprosthetics of the Knee Joint?. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 11(12), 3456.