By Dr. Michael Zolotnitsky, PT, DPT
Ever rolled your ankle or bumped your knee forcing you to limp around a few days, use a brace, crutches or even a wheelchair? How about a jammed finger, twisted elbow or wrist bleed that made you avoid using your arm making simple things like shaving seem so challenging?
The question lies in what you do when this happens. Do you rest, or do you move?
Growing up with severe hemophilia, I woke to countless mornings not being able to walk because of insidious thigh bleeds. I cautioned myself during basketball to avoid another jammed finger that would inhibit me from closing my hand for days. At a young age, I was unsure of how to manage persistent bleeds aside from my prophylactic treatment. Upon completion of my doctorate in a physical therapy program, I made it my mission to educate the bleeding disorders community.
It began with aquatic physical therapy, alternatives to pain management, safe sports and safe exercises. Then I discovered elastic therapeutic tape, also called kinesiology tape, Kinesio tape, k-tape, or KT, an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive used to treat pain and disability caused by athletic injuries or other physical disorders. Using this helps control pain and support weak muscles. Two years ago, I delivered my first kinesiology taping presentation teaching individuals with bleeding disorders how to properly apply Kinesio tape. The results? Individuals with joint issues found pain relief and could move more quickly and comfortably.
Kinesio tape provides the support of a brace, but with flexibility to prevent limited range of motion and reduce muscle contractures.
It can also facilitate weaker muscles or inhibit tight muscles from firing. One of the most effective taping techniques helps reduce swelling by draining lymphatic fluid or draining synovial fluid.
Without proper instruction, applying Kinesio tape can cause more harm than benefit. For those who are unable to work with me in person, a YouTube channel (hemodoc) is available as an online resource. My goal is for every individual to live life to their fullest and not allow their medical condition to define their ability!
Individuals are not created equal and it’s difficult to have a “one size fits all” solution. My advice is to first consult with your physician or hemophilia treatment center, ask about the use of Kinesio taping in your individual case and check out my YouTube videos for guidelines on how to effectively apply Kinesio tape to help alleviate painful joints.