Kinesiology taping (KT) is a rehabilitative technique performed by the cutaneous application of a special elastic tape. We tested the safety and efficacy of KT in reducing postoperative chest pain after lung lobectomy.
One-hundred and seventeen consecutive patients, both genders, age 18–85, undergoing lobectomy for lung cancer between January 2013 and July 2015 were initially considered. Lobectomies were performed by the same surgical team, with thoracotomy or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) access. Exclusion criteria (n = 25 patients) were: previous KT exposure, recent trauma, pre-existing chest pain, lack of informed consent, >24-h postoperative intensive care unit treatment. After surgery, the 92 eligible patients were randomized to KT experimental group (n = 46) or placebo control group (n = 46). Standard postoperative analgesia was administered in both groups (paracetamol/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, epidural analgesia including opioids), with supplemental analgesia boluses at patient request. On postoperative day 1 in addition, in experimental group patients a specialized physiotherapist applied KT, with standardized tape length, tension and shape, over three defined skin areas: at the chest access site pain trigger point; over the ipsilateral deltoid/trapezius; lower anterior chest. In control group, usual dressing tape mimicking KT was applied over the same areas, as placebo. Thoracic pain severity score [visual analogue scale (VAS) ranging 0–10] was self-assessed by all patients on postoperative days 1, 2, 5, 8, 9 and 30.
The KT group and the control group had similar demographics, lung cancer clinico-pathological features and thoracotomy/VATS ratio. Postoperatively, the two groups also resulted similar in supplemental analgesia, complication rate, mean duration of chest drainage and length of stay. There were no adverse events with KT application. After tape application, KT patients reported overall less thoracic pain than the control group, the difference being significant on postoperative day 5 [median VAS, 2 (interquartile range, 1–3) vs 3 (2–5), P < 0.01] and day 8 [median VAS, 1 (0–2) vs 2 (1–3), P < 0.05]. Moreover, on postoperative day 30 persistence of chest pain (VAS ≥3) was reported less frequently by the KT group than by the control group (7 vs 24%; P = 0.03).
KT after lung lobectomy is a safe and effective auxiliary technique for chest pain control.