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Knee News

Getting Below the Surface of How Patellar Taping Works

Physical therapists have been using a special method of taping the kneecap (patella) to control pain since 1986. It's called McConnell taping. Studies of this taping technique don't all agree. Does the tape hold the patella in place during exercise? Is it the taping that reduces knee pain?

Researchers at Boise State University are using a special MRI tests to take a look. They studied 18 healthy women with no history of knee problems. First they took MRIs of the knee in various positions. Then they taped the patella to hold it in the middle of the knee. The MRIs were repeated. The women completed an exercise course and had a final MRI done after exercise.

The results show that McConnell taping does put the patella in the right place before exercise. However, it doesn't keep it there during exercise. The MRIs showed that the patella had moved a significant amount at every knee angle.

The authors suggest McConnell taping may work by some other means than position. Perhaps increasing the surface contact between the bones is the key. Or maybe the muscles work better when the patella is taped no matter what position it's in. More studies are needed to answer these questions.

Ronald P. Pfeiffer, EdD, LAT, ATC, et al. Kinematic MRI Assessment of McConnell Taping Before and After Exercise. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. May/June 2004. Vol. 32. No. 3. Pp. 621-628.

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