Anterior Knee Pain, Part 2: What the literature tells us about McConnell Taping as a method of management

Part 1 of this advice covered the common causes of anterior knee pain. One commonly used form of management for anterior knee pain involves realignment of the patella through taping. This is thought to not only assist with improved positioning of joint surfaces but also enable greater engagement of he dynamic musculature around the knee.

 

Leibbrandt and Louw (2015) undertook a systematic review on the available evidence for the effect of McConnell taping on knee biomechanics in individuals with AKP, searching various electronic databases from inception until 2014. Their review included experimental research on knee biomechanical or EMG outcomes of McConnell taping, compared with no tape or placebo tape. Of the 182 studies found, once screened for inclusion and exclusion criteria, the number was reduced to 8 heterogeneous studies with a total sample of 220, each study with moderate to low risk of bias (determined via use of Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias).

 

A common aim among all studies was to determine whether McConnell taping has an effect on a biomechanical outcome in subjects with AKP. However, there was significant heterogeneity amongst the studies included in this review. Four of the included studies investigated EMG, two studies looked at kinematics, and two studies looked at kinetics. Six of the studies had an asymptomatic control group, and two studies used a single group design. The study designs were all experimental, with the majority being randomized cross-over and repeated measures designs.

 

One theory of taping is that as the quadriceps are inhibited by pain, once pain relief is achieved, the individual should be able to perform activities absent of pain. The authors note however, that the precise mechanism of patellar taping remains unclear and that reported expected effects could be due to neuromuscular, biomechanical or placebo mechanisms. Other studies have proposed a proprioceptive somatosensory mechanism of taping.

McConnell taping

Of the 220 subjects within the included studies, 130 had a diagnosis of AKP. From this systematic review, the authors noted that general findings within the included studies were that McConnell taping did not appear to alter knee kinematics and kinetics or muscle activation patterns of the knee muscles, or certainly there were no significant changes found in this regard. The authors concluded that it still remains unclear as to extent and actual mechanism that McConnell taping has on anterior knee pain.

 

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Ref: Leibbrandt DC, Louw QA. The use of McConnell taping to correct abnormal biomechanics and muscle activation patterns in subjects with anterior knee pain: a systematic review. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Jul;27(7):2395-404.

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The comments above are the implicit advice of Workplace Physiotherapy. The views expressed are based on current evidence-based research and accepted best practice approaches. Unless otherwise stated, these comments are not the view of WorkCover NSW or any other professional body. No reproduction or forwarding of this advice is permitted without the consent of the author.

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