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Gianola S, Iannicelli V, Fascio E, et al. Kinesio taping for rotator cuff disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 Aug 8;8:CD012720. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012720.pub2. (Systematic review)
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Kinesio Taping (KT) is one of the conservative treatments proposed for rotator cuff disease. KT is an elastic, adhesive, latex-free taping made from cotton, without active pharmacological agents. Clinicians have adopted it in the rehabilitation treatment of painful conditions, however, there is no firm evidence on its benefits.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the benefits and harms of KT in adults with rotator cuff disease.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Embase, PEDro, CINAHL, Clinicaltrials.gov and WHO ICRTP registry to July 27 2020, unrestricted by date and language.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials (RCTs) including adults with rotator cuff disease. Major outcomes were overall pain, function, pain on motion, active range of motion, global assessment of treatment success, quality of life, and adverse events.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used standard methodologic procedures expected by Cochrane.

MAIN RESULTS: We included 23 trials with 1054 participants. Nine studies (312 participants) assessed the effectiveness of KT versus sham therapy and fourteen studies (742 participants) assessed the effectiveness of KT versus conservative treatment. Most participants were aged between 18 and 50 years. Females comprised 52% of the sample. For the meta-analysis, we considered the last available measurement within 30 days from the end of the intervention. All trials were at risk of performance, selection, reporting, attrition, and other biases.  Comparison with sham taping Due to very low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain whether KT improves overall pain, function, pain on motion and active range of motion compared with sham taping. Mean overall pain (0 to 10 scale, 0 no pain) was 2.96 points with sham taping and 3.03 points with KT (3 RCTs,106 participants), with an absolute difference of 0.7% worse, (95% CI 7.7% better to 9% worse) and a relative difference of 2% worse (95% CI 21% better to 24% worse) at four weeks. Mean function (0 to 100 scale, 0 better function) was 47.1 points with sham taping and 39.05 points with KT (6 RCTs, 214 participants), with an absolute improvement of 8% (95% CI 21% better to 5% worse)and a relative improvement of 15% (95% CI 40% better to 9% worse) at four weeks. Mean pain on motion (0 to 10 scale, 0 no pain) was 4.39 points with sham taping and 2.91 points with KT even though not clinically important (4 RCTs, 153 participants), with an absolute improvement of 14.8% (95% CI 22.5% better to 7.1% better) and a relative improvement of 30% (95% CI 45% better to 14% better) at four weeks. Mean active range of motion (shoulder abduction) without pain was 174.2 degrees with sham taping and 184.43 degrees with KT (2 RCTs, 68 participants), with an absolute improvement of 5.7% (95% CI 8.9% worse to 20.3% better) and a relative improvement of 6% (95% CI 10% worse to 22% better) at two weeks. No studies reported global assessment of treatment success. Quality of life was reported by one study but data were disaggregated in subscales. No reliable estimates for adverse events (4 studies; very low-certainty) could be provided due to the heterogeneous description of events in the sample. Comparison with conservative treatments Due to very low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain if KT improves overall pain, function, pain on motion and active range of motion compared with conservative treatments. However, KT may improve quality of life (low certainty of evidence).  Mean overall pain (0 to 10 scale, 0 no pain) was 0.9 points with conservative treatment and 0.46 points with KT (5 RCTs, 266 participants), with an absolute improvement of 4.4% (95% CI 13% better to 4.6% worse) and a relative improvement of 15% (95% CI 46% better to 16% worse) at six weeks. Mean function (0 to 100 scale, 0 better function) was 46.6 points with conservative treatment and 33.47 points with KT (14 RCTs, 499 participants), with an absolute improvement of 13% (95% CI 24% better to 2% better) and a relative improvement of 18% (95% CI 32% better to 3% better) at four weeks. Mean pain on motion (0 to 10 scale, 0 no pain) was 4 points with conservative treatment and 3.94 points with KT (6 RCTs, 225 participants), with an absolute improvement of 0.6% (95% CI 7% better to 8% worse) and a relative improvement of 1% (95% CI 12% better to 10% worse) at four weeks. Mean active range of motion (shoulder abduction) without pain was 156.6 degrees with conservative treatment and 159.64 degrees with KT (3 RCTs, 143 participants), with an absolute improvement of 3% (95% CI 11% worse to 17 % better) and a relative improvement of 3% (95% CI 9% worse to 14% better) at six weeks.  Mean of quality of life (0 to 100, 100 better quality of life) was 37.94 points with conservative treatment and 56.64 points with KT (1 RCTs, 30 participants), with an absolute improvement of 18.7% (95% CI 14.48% better to 22.92% better) and a relative improvement of 53% (95% CI 41% better to 65% better) at four weeks.  No studies were found for global assessment of treatment success. No reliable estimates for adverse events (7 studies, very low certainty of evidence) could be provided due to the heterogeneous description of events in the whole sample.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Kinesio taping for rotator cuff disease has uncertain effects in terms of self-reported pain, function, pain on motion and active range of motion when compared to sham taping or other conservative treatments as the certainty of evidence was very low. Low-certainty evidence shows that kinesio taping may improve quality of life when compared to conservative treatment. We downgraded the evidence for indirectness due to differences among co-interventions, imprecision due to small number of participants across trials as well as selection bias, performance and detection bias. Evidence on adverse events was scarce and uncertain. Based upon the data in this review, the evidence for the efficacy of KT seems to demonstrate little or no benefit.

Ratings
Discipline Area Score
Rehab Clinician (OT/PT) 6 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Rehab Clinician (OT/PT) rater

"Based upon the data in this review, the evidence for the efficacy of KT seems to demonstrate little or no benefit." It is difficult to add more to this statement other than to opine that another fashionable, dollar generating splinting gimmick with very limited ability to deliver temporary pain modulation through the constraint of local forces, loads, motion, bites the dust.
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