Pain reduction through patella taping has been hypothesised to be achieved via changes to neuromuscular control and/or patellofemoral joint (PFJ) kinematics. Considering the high number of recent publications, a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of patellar taping on pain, neuromuscular control and PFJ kinematics is warranted. MEDLINE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and EMBASE databases were searched from inception until February 2011 for randomised studies evaluating the effects of patellar taping on pain, neuromuscular control, and/or PFJ kinematics in individuals with PFPS. All potential publications were assessed by 2 independent reviewers for inclusion and quality using the Downs and Black Quality Index. Ten studies were included for final review. Two studies investigated medium to longer term effects of taping on pain (4 to 52 weeks), and eight studies investigated the immediate effects of taping on pain, neuromuscular control, and/or PFJ kinematics. Effect size calculations showed that perceived pain was reduced at four weeks by medially directed taping in combination with exercise. In the immediate term, medially directed patellar taping reduced pain during functional tasks. Patellar taping was found to reduce vastus medialis (VMO) to vastus lateralis (VL) ratio, and produce earlier vastus medialis oblique (VMO) activation. Patellar taping provides an effective means of pain relief in PFPS in the immediate term. Additionally, further high quality randomised trials with long term follow-up evaluating the efficacy of patellar taping as an adjunct or alternative treatment to other evidence based interventions is needed. Possible neuromuscular mechanisms behind patellar taping efficacy may be reduced levels and earlier onsets of VMO activity. There is a paucity of research evaluating the effects of patellar taping on PFJ kinematics.
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