Kinesio Taping® of the metacarpophalangeal joints and its effect on hand function in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.
Background Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic disease that affects the hands bilaterally, resulting in inflammation, pain, joint instability, diminished grip strength and difficulties with function. The metacarpal joint (MCP) is commonly affected in the hand. The effectiveness of Kinesio Taping® on taping of the MCP joints has not been established in assisting with the symptoms in the hand. Aim To determine the effectiveness of bilateral Kinesio Taping® of the MCP joints on pain, range of motion, grip strength and hand function in elderly individuals previously diagnosed with RA. Methods / Design A repeated measure experimental design was used for the study over a seven week period with the experimental group (n = 30) receiving bilateral space correction Kinesio Taping® of the MCP joints and the control group (n = 31) participating in joint protection (JP) workshops. The Kinesio Tape® was worn for 3 days per week with four applications during the data collection process. For the control group, 2 hour JP educational-behavioural workshops were run weekly for four weeks. Weekly assessments were completed for grip strength, ulnar deviation and pain (VAS), and two pre-intervention assessments and one post-intervention assessment was completed for the Michigan Hands Outcomes Questionnaire (MHQ). Results Kinesio Taping® of the MCP joints has shown a significant decrease in pain (P=0.00) and range of motion (P=0.00 bilaterally). Joint protection was found to have a significant difference in grip strength and in the work and ADL sections of the MHQ. No significant difference was found between groups after intervention in the majority of outcomes except for grip strength where a significant difference was found. The level of significance was set at 0.05. Discussion and Conclusion This study has shown that Kinesio Taping® of the MCP joints is an effective conservative intervention that can be used to improve pain and MCP ulnar deviation in individuals with RA over a 4 week period. This is completed through a space correction application of three days, with the tape being reapplied weekly. Kinesio Taping® can be therefore included into Occupational Therapy standard practice especially when the aim is to decrease levels of pain in the MCP joint but it may not be effective to ensure a long term effect on pain. Therefore, in order to ensure ongoing pain relief as well as to ensure maximum functioning in ADL, the taping should be used in conjunction with other therapy interventions as part of the total rehabilitation process. Further, Kinesio Taping® in conjunction with JP programmes would work effectively together to minimise pain and maximise participation in valued occupations, especially in the newly diagnosed client. Further research into the use of Kinesio Taping® in people with RA is recommended.