Taping and Bracing

How Is Taping Used In Foot and Ankle Care?

Foot pain in the toe area is often caused by a pinched nerve. Aristotle called this sharp (neuroma) pain the ‘worst pain known to man…’ We have developed a simple taping procedure that relieves pressure on the nerve. This tape treatment can often be learned by the patient themselves.

Pain in the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) often accompanies a condition called ‘flat foot’. Whether a person is born with flat feet, or acquires one from injury to the foot, arch support in the form of an ‘orthotic’ is often helpful. We will often tape the arch first to see if an orthotic will be helpful. Joint mobilization is often the key in the ‘acquired type of flat foot. We have learned that even expensive custom arch supports may be painful if the foot is not prepared through joint mobilization. Stretching and strengthening of the leg and or foot rounds out the treatment for lasting results.

How Is Taping Used In Knee Care?

One of the most common causes of knee pain is a ‘maltracking patella’ wherein the kneecap (patella) starts rubbing in such a way that swelling and knee pain develops. We can use taping of the kneecap to help control the pain and allow strengthening exercises to be done easier. Many times the real culprit is a foot problem below. The taping described above is also used in the knee rehabilitation program.

How Is Taping and Bracing Used In Spine Care?

A second type of taping and bracing refers to the protection and rehabilitation of the spine. Your physical therapist may use taping to give you a better sense of your back or neck position. This gives you the best chance of learning a new posture that allows and promotes healing of an injury. A simple piece of tape on your back or chest will give you immediate, valuable feedback on your posture if you slouch or over lift your chest.

Low back braces and cervical collars had fallen out of favor with physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons, as they felt that patients would not develop the necessary strength if they wore them too long. While this is true, at COASTherapy the management pendulum is swinging the other way. People with known spine problems are being encouraged to strengthen their ‘core muscles’ and also to go ahead and use an external brace if they know that they have a full day of garden chores, lifting or anything they know will put their neck or back at risk. Protecting yourself for one day will NOT promote weakness. It is better to protect yourself and resume a desired activity, rather than to give it up altogether.

Occasionally we resort to moderate-term (6-8 weeks) cervical collar use if a patient is not responding to normal neck rehabilitation after trauma (e.g. whiplash). There are cases in which the healing of over-stretched ligaments must be immobilized to allow healing, exactly like a bone (both are types of connective tissue) needs to be casted after fracture to allow healing.