What is Kinesiology tape and how can it reduce chronic pain?

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You have likely seen individuals using kinesiology tape and might not have been aware of what it was being used for. If you’ve seen athletes or community members with tape placed in very specific places, such as knees, ankles, and shoulders, you can assume this was kinesiology tape. Although it might seem strange to the untrained eye, kinesiology tape is a very specific intervention that the best pain doctors use with patients for reducing chronic and acute pain.

What is kinesiology tape?

Kinesiology tape is cotton tape that is very stretchy. It is thin and when applied to injured areas it can have a wide variety of benefits for acute pain. What is incredible about kinesiology tape is that it mimics the skin in its thickness and elasticity. In this way, pain doctors are able to apply it to the injured area without binding, constricting, or restricting movement. This is very helpful for pain treatments in patients with chronic knee pain, back pain, and other joint and muscle issues.

How does kinesiology tape work?

Kinesiology tape is applied to the injured or painful area to provide additional support for weak muscles. Because of its elasticity, it allows the muscles to be support but still have full functional abilities. It allows an almost-normal range of motion, whereas other taping interventions do not. For chronic pain in athletes, this is very helpful.

When the tape is applied to the skin, it lifts the skin from the tissues below it. This allows for compression or decompression of the area and therefore a reduction in pain and ability to function at a higher level. A good example of this would be in patients with chronic knee pain. The knee pain doctor will tape the muscles surrounding the knee to bring the fibers together. This causes a contraction which begins to strengthen the muscles around the joint and begin to address, treat, and reduce chronic and acute knee pain.

There are many conditions that taping is used for treating. Pain doctors will use kinesiology tape to facilitate muscle strengthening, reduce pain, decrease swelling, stabilize muscles, and decompress tissues. Kinesiology tape is going to be used in combination with other treatments, such as laser therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other interventions as needed. For example, cold laser therapy will be utilized on knee pain by exposing the tissue to low levels of red light. The wavelengths will penetrate the skin and reduce inflammation and improve circulation. Laser therapy works to treat the chronic pain of the knee. After the treatment, the pain doctor will apply kinesiology tape and even send the patient home with physical therapy exercises to utilize.

What are the benefits of kinesiology taping?

As mentioned above, the benefits of kinesiology taping are far reaching. Kinesiology tape provides the following:

1. Pain relief – both physical and neurological pain relief is provided through relieving pressure on the pain receptors under the skin

2. Reduction in swelling – the tape provides negative pressure that allows drainage therefore reducing swelling and pulling inflammatory cells away from the area in acute pain

3. Muscle support – kinesiology tape supports muscle contractions after exercise and reduces lactic acid, therefore enhancing muscle performance, reducing cramping, and preventing soreness

4. Quicker return – individuals who receive taping from their pain doctor are more likely to return to their preferred activities quicker than those who do not

How can I access kinesiology tape?

If you are interested in taping, it is recommended that you work with your pain doctor for ongoing support. We do not recommend you provide kinesiology taping on yourself without support from a trained professional. The best knee pain doctors, for example, will develop a treatment plan for your knee pain that will include kinesiology tape and other interventions as we mentioned earlier. Reach out to your local pain clinic for the best pain doctors you can see for reducing chronic or severe pain.

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