Individuals with disc degeneration experience associated pain and disability. Considering its safety and affordability, Kinesio tape (KT) may be a viable treatment. However, most KT studies have demonstrated its effects in healthy adults and patients with nonspecific low back pain. The efficacy of KT in patients with disc degeneration is yet to be investigated.
To examine the acute effects of KT on patients with lumbar disc degeneration confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging.
A total of 31 eligible patients (aged 25-64 years) with low back pain caused by lumbar disc degeneration were divided into mild and moderate-to-severe pain groups. KT was applied to the painful lumbar region in a lumbar brace-like pattern for 1 day. A visual analogue scale for pain and the Oswestry disability index were analysed before and after 1 day of taping. The Biering-Sorensen test for trunk muscle endurance was performed before, immediately after, and 1 day after taping as well as immediately after tape removal.
After taping, both groups showed significant pain reduction (p< 0.001), but the reduction was of minimal clinical importance in the moderate-to-severe pain group. The magnitude of treatment (i.e. effect size) was higher in the moderate-to-severe pain group. Disability significantly decreased in both groups, particularly in the moderate-to-severe pain group, but the improvement was not clinically worthwhile. Trunk muscle endurance significantly improved in both groups with in situ taping, but it decreased after tape removal.
KT may be adopted as an assistive aid for immediate pain reduction, particularly in lumbar disc degeneration patients with moderate-to-severe pain; however, its effects on disability and trunk muscle endurance are not clinically worthwhile. The long-term effects of KT, with or without active exercise, warrant further assessment.