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A tale of two taping papers 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Sometimes when researchers sum up by saying “more study needed,” what they really mean is “the evidence hasn’t gone our way yet, so let’s keep doing shabby science until it tells us what we want to hear.” This meta-analysis of kineso taping for sports injuries in New Zealand’s Sports Medicine journal doesn’t really have much good news to report, but it manages to come off as pro-taping and cautiously optimistic anyway:

In conclusion, there was little quality evidence to support the use of KT over other types of elastic taping in the management or prevention of sports injuries. KT may have a small beneficial role in improving strength, range of motion … . The amount of case study and anecdotal support for KT warrants well designed experimental research, particularly pertaining to sporting injuries, so that practitioners can be confident that KT is beneficial for their athletes.

This formal response in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, by Drs. Steve Kamper and Nicholas Henschke, just seethes with irritation.

Despite the title of the review, the authors do not report a meta-analysis of the included studies. … The review has several flaws, the most serious of which is selective reporting of outcomes. As only positive (significant) results are reported it is not possible to assess the entirety of the evidence for effectiveness of kinesio taping. In addition, while the authors report to have followed the methodological guidelines of the Cochrane Collaboration this does not appear to be the case. … Clinicians should look to other sources of information …

More study of taping is needed, but not “so that practitioners can be confident” — it should be done because we need to find out if practitioners should be confident. And the limited evidence so far is discouraging, not encouraging, and to the extent that there are a few scraps of positive evidence, it’s a classic case of damning with faint praise.

“Kinesio taping for sports injuries”
Kamper et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Volume 47, Number 17, 1128–9. Nov 2013.