Effect of patellar strap and sports tape on pain in
patellar tendinopathy: A randomized controlled trial

De Vries A,
et al. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015.
[Epub Ahead of Print].

Home Message: The use of patellar strap and sports taping were both effective
in decreasing pain due to patellar tendinopathy.

Patellar straps and sports tape are often used to treat
patients with pain due to patellar tendinopathy. Unfortunately, the
effectiveness of these treatments are unknown. Therefore, de Vries and
colleagues completed a multi-center randomized controlled trial to investigate
the short-term effects of a patellar strap or sports tape on patellar tendon
pain during functional tests in a controlled and sports-specific
environment. The authors recruited 97 participants for the current study.
All participants were between 18 and 50 years of age and had pain at the
patellar tendon, a duration of symptoms exceeding 3 months, a
Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment Questionnaire Patella score of less than 80 out of 100
points, tenderness of the patellar tendon, and were active in sports. All
participants initially completed a baseline questionnaire about personal
characteristics as well as sports and injury information. Three functional
tests were performed in a controlled environment. All participants performed a
single leg decline squat on a platform, a vertical jump test, and a triple hop
test. Following each test participants were asked to rate their pain on a
visual analogue scale. The order of tests was the same for all patients and
each participant rested at least one minute between tests. In this
session, the participants did the tasks with a
patellar strap, sports tape,
placebo taping, or no tape/brace (control). The order of treatment was
randomized. The authors also assessed 67 of the 99 participants over the course
of 2 weeks in a sports-specific environment. During the first week of sport, no
treatment was applied. During the second week 25% of participants used a
patellar strap during sports, 25% used sports tape, 25% used a placebo
condition, and 25% use no treatment during sport. Researchers instructed the
participants to document the amount of pain during sports, 2 hours after sports,
and the next morning using a visual analogue scale. Overall, in the
controlled environment participants wearing the patellar strap or sports tape
experienced less pain during the single-leg decline squats compared with the
control condition. There were no differences between treatments after the other
tasks. In the sports-specific environment, participants allocated to the sports
tape, patellar strap, or placebo taping trended towards less pain during sports
and just after sports participation.

Overall, the authors suggest that in the short-term a patellar
strap, sports tape, or possibly even a placebo taping could be effective for
pain related to patellar tendinopathy. The results of the placebo group suggest
that any perceived attempt at treating patellar tendinopathy may be effective.
Overall, clinicians should continue to apply these treatments until more
research can be completed. It would be interesting to know if certain people
respond better to one treatment than another. If a patient doesn’t respond to
one treatment perhaps we should try another. Furthermore, it may be vital to
know the long-term benefits or risks of decreasing a person’s patellar
tendinopathy pain and then allowing them to continue to stress the tendon in
sport. One important limitation of the current study is that in the sports-specific
environment participants applied their own treatment. This could result in
treatment not being applied correctly. For example, the placebo taping could
have been applied with more pressure than the authors intended. Until such time
as more research can be completed clinician should feel confident that both
patellar strap and sports taping are effective at lowering pain over the
short-term for patients with patellar tendinopathy.

Questions for Discussion: How
effective have either patella strapping or sports taping been in your clinical
practice with regards to decreasing pain due to patellar tendinopathy? If you
have not used either of these treatments previously would you now consider
using either of these treatments based on the current study?

Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by:  Jeffrey Driban

Related Posts:

Asymptomatic Achilles, Patellar, and Quadriceps Tendinopathy on Diagnostic Ultrasound

de Vries, A., Zwerver, J., Diercks, R., Tak, I., van Berkel, S., van Cingel, R., van der Worp, H., & van den Akker-Scheek, I. (2015). Effect of patellar strap and sports tape on pain in patellar tendinopathy: A randomized controlled trial Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports DOI: 10.1111/sms.12556