Kinesio Taping & Lymphedema

Over the years, we have all seen this different coloured tape, positioned in different patterns, on different body parts, on athletes during sporting events on TV or elsewhere. What is this mysterious tape? How does it work? And will it help with lymphedema?

Kinesio tape was developed by a Chiropractor, Dr. Kenzo Kase, who was Japanese-born but did his schooling in America. His fascination with kinesiology led him to look at ways less rigid tape could replicate the properties of skin and muscle and would assist the body in the healing process. After trial and error he, along with a company based out of Japan, developed the “Kinesio Tex Tape”. From there he developed the Kinesio taping method and began teaching this method worldwide.

The tape is made from a special elastic woven cotton fabric that is applied in various patterns to stretched skin and stimulates the integumentary system (skin), nervous system, muscular system and lymphatic system. The overall goal of the tape is to help decrease pain and inflammation. With regard to lymphedema, the majority of research has been done with grade II and III lymphedema, and the findings were that it is a very good adjunct to manual lymph drainage (MLD) and compression garments but would not replace these two types of interventions.

How does Kinesio taping work with regard to lymphedema?

kinesio taping

The tape is attached to the skin in order to increase skin movement during daily activity and exercise. The pressure change to the skin influences fluid movement in the superficial and deeper tissues as well as loosening adhesions that may be present in the area. The tape can also be positioned so that the skin is lifted, creating an area of reduced pressure to facilitate proximal drainage (ie. Moving the fluid up the arm from the hand). The picture here shows this nicely.

I think it is clear to see that Kinesio taping can be a valuable tool for assisting edema reduction when used in combination with MLD and compression. Here are a few benefits you may receive based on clinical experience:

  • Reduced edema, decreasing pain or abnormal sensations
  • Increase assistance in proximal drainage
  • Decrease adhesion seen with fibrosis, scars and Axillary Web Syndrome
  • Facilitates improved alignment of muscle/joint for everyday activity and therapeutic exercise
  • Increases sense of control over the condition and the application is easily taught to the individual with lymphedema or a caregiver

At Sunnybrae Therapeutics, both Sandra MacDonald and Daphne Calhoun have training in Kinesio taping. Please call (902)425-7759 to discuss if Kinesio taping would be useful for you or book here on our website.