Healthbeat Report: Speed Healing

October 8, 2009 Physical therapists say the beauty of the treatment is that it's non invasive and allows you to go about your normal activities, while it gently works to help ease swelling and pain.

It's not the typical taping of an athletic injury. It's is called the kinesio taping method.

The idea is not to restrict or bind movement but instead the tape which is as flexible as human skin is said to help move muscle and tissue to reduce pain and inflammation, lessen a muscle's workload, provide support and speed healing.

"It's heat activated so that's why I'm rubbing it a lot," said Cameron Burnett.

Seventeen-year-old high school football player Cameron Burnett is hoping it will help his injured knee.

"Sprained LCL and now it looks like something is wrong with my ACL," said Burnett.

"Sometimes after a knee injury the quads tend to shut down," said Rob Wassilak, athletic trainer, Athletico. "So we are trying to activate some of the muscle tissue down there."

How does the tape actually do that?

Rob Wassilak says it is very flexible and is applied in a way to move with the body, helping to lift muscle and tissue.

The idea is to work with the lymphatic system which is the body's drainage system to increase circulation and improve blood flow.

"It's using the muscles he already has and trying to keep them functioning properly," said Wassilak.

Most people had never seen the odd but interesting tape until athletes such as volleyball star Keri Walsh sported it during the Beijing Olympics. It's actually been around for about 25 years and created by a Japanese chiropractor. And now that other sports stars such as cyclist Lance Armstrong and soccer sensation David Beckham are using kinesio tape it's gaining in popularity.

It's even being touted as a treatment for headaches to foot problems and everything in between.

So is this a breakthrough for all of life's aches and pains or just the latest fad?

"Really a lack of good solid studies on kinesio taping," said Dr. Jeff Mjannes, sports medicine.

Dr. Mjannes admits the stories of success are mostly anecdotal. But he thinks there could be something to this. The Rush doctor stresses this will do nothing for a healthy person but for an acute injury that involves swelling it may be worth a try. He recommends having it applied by someone who's been certified in kinesio taping because a lot depends on the application of the tape where it's placed and how much stretch is used.

"There may be a benefit if done correctly for a person with injury. It's not going to prevent anything but it's not going to harm you so if it helps great," said Dr. Mjannes.

Cameron never expected to be getting a treatment like this. He's not so sure how he'll explain it to his teammates.

"That's kinesio tape," said Burnett as he laughs.

Skeptics say the tape may be providing nothing more than a placebo effect that is if people simply think it works they feel better.

Kinseio taping usually isn't used in place of traditional treatments it's recommend for more of a supportive role in healing.

Jeffrey M. Mjaanes, M.D.
Sports Medicine, Pediatric Sports Medicine
Assistant Professor, Departments of Orthopaedics, Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery
Rush University Medical Center
Rush University Medical Center
1725 West Harrison Street, Suite 1063
Chicago, Illinois 60612
Toll free 877 MD BONES
Phone: 312.243.4244
Fax: 312.942.1517


Sarah Sanders
Quality Therapy and Consultation
Director of Recruitment and Professional Development

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