Kinesiology tape KT is fashionable, it seems. Gullible consumers proudly wear it as decorative ornaments to attract attention and show how very cool they are.

Am I too cynical?


But does KT really do anything more?

A new trial might tell us.

The aim of this study was to investigate whether adding kinesiology tape (KT) to spinal manipulation (SM) can provide any extra effect in athletes with chronic non-specific low back pain (CNLBP).

Forty-two athletes (21males, 21females) with CNLBP were randomized into two groups of SM (n = 21) and SM plus KT (n = 21). Pain intensity, functional disability level and trunk flexor-extensor muscles endurance were assessed by Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), Oswestry pain and disability index (ODI), McQuade test, and unsupported trunk holding test, respectively. The tests were done before and immediately, one day, one week, and one month after the interventions and compared between the two groups.

After treatments, pain intensity and disability level decreased and endurance of trunk flexor-extensor muscles increased significantly in both groups. Repeated measures analysis, however, showed that there was no significant difference between the groups in any of the evaluations.

The authors, physiotherapists from Iran, concluded that the findings of the present study showed that adding KT to SM does not appear to have a significant extra effect on pain, disability and muscle endurance in athletes with CNLBP. However, more studies are needed to examine the therapeutic effects of KT in treating these patients.

Regular readers of my blog will be able to predict what I have to say about this study design: A+B versus B is not a meaningful test of anything. I used to claim that it cannot possibly produce a negative result – and yet, here it seems to have done exactly that!

How come?

The way I see it, there are two possibilities to explain this:

  • the KT has a mildly negative effect on CNLBP; thus the expected positive placebo-effect was neutralised to result in a null-effect overall;
  • the study was under-powered such that the true inter-group difference could not manifest itself.

I think the second possibility is more likely, but it does really not matter at all. Because the only lesson we can learn from this trial is this: inadequate study designs will  hardly ever generate anything worthwhile.

And this is, I think, a lesson that would be valuable for many researchers.



2018 Apr;22(2):540-545. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.07.008. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

Comparing spinal manipulation with and without Kinesio Taping® in the treatment of chronic low back pain.


12 Responses to Is kinesiology tape helpful for back pain? A new study attempts to find out (but fails miserably)

  • I wonder why so many authors of negative trials call for more research. First of all, the prior probability for implausible treatments must be close to zero. Secondly, the negative result is not a justification for flogging a dead horse. Put the two together and the correct conclusion is – this harebrained `treatment’ does not work and we should stop now.

  • It occurs to me that the A+B vs B experimental design will not produce a positive result for A when A is toxic or has another negative effect.

  • Lets see…

    What percentage of practioneers just do SMT with KT for chronic nonspecific low back backpain? Like none?

  • @D(umb)C(onfused): “…like none”. Indeed they are busy doing “Laser therapy” at $65.00 a clip, Activator and Arthro-stim bullshit, shock-wave therapy, spinal “Decompression” , AK, motion-palpation, foot orthotics at $300 a snatch, homeopathics and upper-cervical realignments. Not that you read but one of your major publications did it’s annual survey on Chiropractic treatment utilization and KT use was 51.7%. But perhaps the majority are using it to treat ED and diabetes? Like adverse-events you reprobates refuse to yield to facts.

  • MK: External validity…look it up.

    • Your use of the term “external validity” reminds me of the time a baboon at the Cincinnati zoo had gotten hold of a nail gun.
      Idea: IF you are going to delve into the world of real education and erudition you may want to go to a real college first.

      • Well, considering I’ve attended 4 colleges, earned three college degrees and did a research residency, it appears I may be better equipped to discuss these topics than a disgruntled lawyer whose main approach is ad hom attacks.

  • As I’ve pointed out previously I was married to a DC and was steeped in their garbage-pretending-to-be-science for years. I know ALL the theatrics and am well aware of the arrogance associated with pseudoscience.
    Obviously so are you! Why else get 3 other “degrees”?
    IF you are as erudite and supremely educated as you say I’m befuddled as to WHY you would be on the defense-side of the “chiropractic is quackery” argument? THAT is far more incongruous to reason than resorting to (what you mis-define as ad hominem) clever jibes. Perhaps Like Jose Baez you may likely find the defense of money far more important than the defense of truth, ethics and science.
    And what is your standard when assessing your D(umb) C(onfused) brethren who will be in their offices Monday morning whacking innumerable prey with an Activator? Strapping them on a Decompression “system”? Finding allergies with AK? “Correcting a PI/AS with a Thompson drop? Palpating an ASRA or T6 sub-lux? Cracking the “flying-7”? Pretending the spinal-vertebra and their “alignment” is both determinable by something you have been “educated” in AND that alignment means something to human health and well-being?
    The prosecution rests…..
    And IF you do NONE of these….then I ask again WTF DO U “well-educated” defenders DO??

    • MK: i have been involved with attempting to ban certain chiropractors from speaking on chiropractic campuses. I have been a supporter of kicking Techniques off campuses (at least until they can provide appropriate research). I have called out state boards for allowing continuing education for certain classes and speakers. I have sent complaints to state boards re chiropractors (working on one now). I have had many discussions with chiropractors regarding the feasibility of tiering the profession to advanced credentialing to help divide the profession. I share hundreds of research papers every year with my peers. I have been physically threatened, called every name in the book and ridiculed for my stances. I could go on and on.

      So I don’t need you are anyone in here to point out to me the issues in my profession.

      But if you expect us to be honest and truthful re our profession than i think its only fair to expect the same from our critics. Do that and i have no issues with skeptics.

  • So….
    Patient: “DC, I need to make an appointment….but can you tell me what treatments you do?”
    DC: “ well, I DON’T do neck manipulation”!
    Patient: “ I have neck pain and constipation, so what WILL you do”?
    DC: “well I WON’T do neck manipulation”.
    Patient: “well what if looking at me, running your fingers up and down my spine, doing incantations, drop tables, AK, CBP, Activator and vitamin-therapy… all the other Chiropractors I’ve been to did….doesn’t work….WHAT will YOU do”?
    DC: “oh in THAT case I’d do neck manipulation”.
    Patient: “I forgot to mention…I had neck manipulation and it didn’t work either”?
    DC: “ well you’ve never had MY neck manipulation”!
    Patient: “ok I’ll be over”.
    DC to secretary: “whew! Almost lost a patient”!

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