Why Knee Taping for Osteoarthritis Works

Reduce Stress and Strain on Soft Tissue

Knee taping is a popular treatment option for people experiencing knee osteoarthritis. Therapeutic knee taping has been shown to reduce the pain and disability associated with knee osteoarthritis.

A doctor using kinesiology tape on a knee
RossHelen / Getty Images 

What Is Knee Taping?

Knee taping is the application and positioning of tape to align the knee in a more stable position. The improved alignment can reduce stress and strain on the soft tissues that surround the knee and improve osteoarthritis symptoms. Precise position of the tape is important, and physical therapists are trained in proper knee taping technique. Patients can also be taught to self-manage the treatment.

How Knee Taping Reduces Pain

While knee taping is recommended for some osteoarthritis patients, there is not a great deal of scientific evidence that supports the recommendation. It is believed that knee taping causes subtle changes to ​joint pressure that may also:

  • reduce strain on the inflamed soft tissue around the knee
  • improve the patient's awareness of body position
  • improve quadricep muscle strength
  • help control the knee to prevent knee buckling or locking

Who It Can Help

Knee taping is considered a simple, inexpensive treatment option for managing symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis. Patients may consider knee taping if some of the conservative treatment options have failed them. Such options include:

Knee taping can also be used with other treatment options, such as osteoarthritis medications, hyaluronan injections, or steroid injections. When a patient has severe pain and total knee replacement has been recommended as the best solution, knee taping may not offer enough benefit.


There are two studies that are most often cited regarding the effectiveness of knee taping. The first study, published in the March 1994 issue of the British Medical Journal, had 14 study participants and was used to evaluate the effectiveness of knee taping on osteoarthritis patients. The study, however, lacked a control group of patients who were not taped, was of short duration and had limited goals. Even so, it found that a 25 percent reduction in pain occurred in patients with patellofemoral joint disease after taping the patella (kneecap) medially or toward the middle for four days.

The second study, published in the July 2003 issue of the British Medical Journal, is considered the premier study on knee taping. It involved 87 study participants with knee osteoarthritis who were randomly assigned to therapeutic tape, control tape, or no tape groups. The study lasted for three weeks and there was a three-week follow-up period.

Twelve physical therapists were trained to tape the knees so that the upper tape provided medial glide, medial tilt, and anteroposterior tilt to the kneecap. A lower tape was positioned to unload either the infrapatellar fat pad (fatty mass that occupies the area between the patellar ligament and the infrapatellar synovial fold of the knee joint) or pes anserinus (conjoined tendons in the leg). Though this sounds quite technical, precise placement of the tape is crucial.

Researchers from the second study concluded that therapeutic tape reapplied weekly and worn for three weeks significantly reduced pain by 38 to 40 percent and improved disability in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The benefit of knee taping lasted for three weeks after taping had been stopped.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Donec V, Kubilius R. The effectiveness of Kinesio Taping® for pain management in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2019;11. doi:10.1177/1759720X19869135

  2. Han JT, Lee JH. Effects of kinesiology taping on repositioning error of the knee joint after quadriceps muscle fatigue. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014;26(6):921-3. doi:10.1589/jpts.26.921

  3. Jones BQ, Covey CJ, Sineath MH. Nonsurgical Management of Knee Pain in Adults. Am Fam Physician. 2015;92(10):875-83.

  4. Cushnaghan J, Mccarthy C, Dieppe P. Taping the patella medially: a new treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee joint?. BMJ. 1994;308(6931):753-5.  doi:10.1136/bmj.308.6931.753

  5. Hinman RS, Crossley KM, Mcconnell J, Bennell KL. Efficacy of knee tape in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee: blinded randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2003;327(7407):135.

Additional Reading

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer who covers arthritis and chronic illness. She is the author of "The Everything Health Guide to Arthritis."