Kinesiology Tape Helps Some Patients Deal With Pain

The brightly colored kinesiology tape made popular by Olympic athletes has trickled down to use in everyday exercise for some. Bree Driscoll filed the following report.

Kimberly Antifave would lace up her shoes and hit the road running three to five miles a day, five times a week. 

But last year, she started feeling some pain in her left leg.

"It was sort of on the side of my shin bone, but very much a bone spot, almost like a bruise-type thing," Antifave says. "So it was very different pain than I have ever had."

Antifave says the pain was nagging and wouldn't go away. The more she would exercise, the worse it got.

After an MRI determined her injury was soft tissue-related and not in her bone, she was referred to physical therapist Dr. Karena Wu, who diagnosed her with medial tibial stress syndrome that stemmed from overuse. She started Antifave on an exercise regimen and deep tissue massage.

During each session, Wu would apply an elastic therapeutic tape called kinesiology tape.

"To help with reducing her perception of pain, helping to increase her muscle activation, and then to help fluid moving in the area to help promote tissue healing," Wu says.

The tape was developed in the 1970s but increased in popularity after athletes started using it in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Now, some people question whether the tape has any medical impact. Wu says there have been no studies that measure the efficacy of the tape, but there have been studies that measure how it changes pain.

"There is no study that shows truly how the tape works on a cellular level," Wu says.

That being said, Wu says she see positive results in her patients.

The tape costs about $10 for a roll of 20 strips, depending on brand, and Wu says it can last for up to six days per application.

Antifave would wear it 24 hours a day for the first few weeks of treatment. Now, she just wears it when she is feeling tightness in the injured area.  

After months of sticking to treatment, she is nearly healed. 

"I am very excited," she says. "Almost there."

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