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KT Tape for Shoulder Pain: Does It Work?

Medically Reviewed by Cellaxys

By Published: April 1, 2024No Comments
kt tape shoulder pain
Dr Pouya Mohajer


Medically Reviewed

Published on: April 1, 2024 | Updated on: March 3, 2024

KT tape, or kinesiology tape, is a stretchable, cotton-nylon tape that stabilizes the joints in case of an injury. It improves muscle function, facilitates the range of motion, and heals swelling and pain in the shoulder, knee, wrist, elbow, ankle, and back. 

Whether you have rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, or shoulder impingements, KT tape effectively heals a range of shoulder injuries. You just have to wear the tape on the affected area, and it will do the magic in a few days. 

Remember, KT tape doesn’t treat open wounds or underlying health issues. It also does not work for everyone, so in this case, you will need to opt for other alternatives like cell-based therapies or platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) to relieve your shoulder pain

How Does KT Tape Improve Shoulder Pain?

Kinesiology tape was launched in the 1970s under the brand name “Kinesio Tape (KT) by Dr. Kenzo Kase. Its use case is mainly associated with physical therapists who use the tape to heal shoulder issues.

In exercise programs, KT tape promotes healing from injuries, manages pain and muscle spasms, and enhances shoulder strength. It also provides support to the joint and improves coordination between rotator cuff muscles. The tape also encourages the patient about their shoulder’s movement to help them recover without complications. 

But how does KT tape offer these benefits? Some experts believe KT tape accelerates healing by improving blood circulation and lymphatic fluid. This, as a result, minimizes swelling after an injury. 

However, no research study has proven these benefits. If your physical therapist opts for this treatment for shoulder pain, they will provide detailed instructions on its use. You may have to wear the tape for five days and perform your daily activities comfortably. 

The general time limit for wearing a KT tape is a day (24 hours) at a time.

Remember, if you have specific health issues like congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or kidney disease, you should avoid KT tape and inform your healthcare provider beforehand. 

Does KT Tape Work for Pain Relief? 

The answer to whether or not KT works varies from person to person. Some people get instant relief after the application, while others don’t see a difference at all. Since no research proves the tape’s benefits, its effects are associated with the placebo effect. 

In 2021, a review from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews investigated the effectiveness of KT taping and sham taping in healing rotator cuff injuries. The researchers performed an analysis of 23 trials on 1,054 participants. However, they couldn’t find if KT tape improved joint function or reduced shoulder pain.

While not verified, the KT tape has zero to minimal risks. So, there is nothing wrong with trying it during rehabilitation.

How to Use KT Tape for Shoulder Pain?

How to Use KT Tape for Shoulder Pain

You can apply the KT tape on the front and back of your shoulder. Here is how you can use it on both sides:

The Front

Clean and dry the area before applying the KT tape to your shoulder. You should also shave the affected part with a razor or a buzz clipper. This will ensure the KT tape attaches to your shoulder perfectly.

It’s better to ask another person to help apply the tape to your shoulder correctly. Here is how the process goes:

  1. First, sit on a flat surface and expose your arm and shoulder.
  2. Next, cut the KT tape in the right size, covering your shoulder from the top to the side of the arm.
  3. Extend your shoulder and reach behind it. This way, the muscles in your front shoulder are fully stretched.
  4. Now, remove the tape’s backing by 2 inches from one end and apply it to your shoulder’s front on the top.
  5. Slowly remove the remaining tape’s backing.
  6. Finally, pull the KT tape, ensuring it’s stretched quarter way. Meanwhile, secure the tap to your arm’s side, going ⅓ way down.

As you apply the tape to your shoulder, the heat from your body will ensure it’s appropriately adhered. Rub on the tape gently. 

KT taping your front shoulder helps maintain your shoulder mobility and create awareness about your movements. This way, you won’t overstretch the joint. 

The Back

After placing the tape on your front shoulder, it’s time to apply it to your shoulder’s back now. Follow the below steps to ensure the tape’s proper application:

  1. Cut the KT strip into a size that covers your shoulder’s back to your arm’s side.
  2. Now, reach your affected shoulder across the front, stretching the back part of the shoulder completely.
  3. Remove the tape’s backing from one side by 2 inches and hold it on your shoulder’s back from the upper area.
  4. Next, peel the remaining backing of the tape.
  5. Repeat the same step you followed for applying the tape to your front shoulder. Stretch the tape and hold its one end on your arm’s side by about ⅓ way down. Make sure the back tape is long enough to overlap the front tape. 

Finally, rub the KT tape gently to ensure it’s appropriately placed. You can wear the tape on your shoulder for up to five days. The tape also remains unaffected during bathing or swimming, so you don’t have to take it off often.

Regenerative Medicine: The Best Alternative for KT Tape

While KT tape is a painless method for shoulder pain, its effectiveness isn’t guaranteed. The best alternative to KT tapes is regenerative medicine-based methods: cell-based therapies (stem cell therapy) and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. 

At CELLAXYS, our board-certified surgeons perform both treatments to heal shoulder issues. These are non-invasive, less painful alternatives to surgery

Cell-based Therapies

Commonly known as stem cell therapy, cell-based therapies extract the patient’s healthy cells and replace them with the damaged ones. Depending on the location from where the cells are extracted, the two types of cell-based therapies are:

  • Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue Transplant (MMAT). In this process, the harvests healthy cells from adipose (fat) tissues and reinjects them into the injury site. 
  • Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMAC). In BMAC, the surgeon uses the highly concentrated cells from your bone marrow to replace them with the damaged ones. 

Cell-based therapies take about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, and you can go home right after. 

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

PRP includes taking the patient’s blood sample and separating platelets from it. These platelets are then sent to the centrifuge to be processed and reinjected into the injured shoulder area for healing. 

Platelets are healing components of our body that release 10 growth factors in the blood, attract healing cells, and produce a web-like scaffolding called fibrin. A high number of platelets in the injured area means early recovery. 

PRP has been a successful treatment for orthopedic, spine, and sports-related injuries for decades. It is completed within 45 minutes, and you can go home right after the procedure. Patients who undergo PRP or cell-based therapies at CELLAXYS report quick healing with minimal pain and risks.




CELLAXYS does not offer Stem Cell Therapy as a cure for any medical condition. No statements or treatments presented by Cellaxys have been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This site contains no medical advice. All statements and opinions are provided for educational and informational purposes only.


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Dr. Pejman Bady began his career over 20 years ago in Family/Emergency Medicine, working in fast-paced emergency departments in Nevada and Kansas. He has served the people of Las Vegas as a physician for over two decades. Throughout this time, he has been met with much acclaim and is now the head of Emergency Medical Services in Nye County, Nevada. More about the doctor on this page.

kt tape shoulder pain

Dr Pouya Mohajer


Pouya Mohajer, M.D. is the Director of Spine and Interventional Medicine for CELLAXYS: Age, Regenerative, and Interventional Medicine Centers. He has over 20 years of experience in pain management, perioperative medicine, and anesthesiology. Dr. Mohajer founded and is the Medical Director of Southern Nevada Pain Specialists and PRIMMED Clinics. He has dedicated his career to surgical innovation and scientific advancement. More about the doctor on this page.

Dr. Pejman Bady

Dr. Pejman Bady began his career over 20 years ago in Family/Emergency Medicine, working in fast-paced emergency departments in Nevada and Kansas. He has served the people of Las Vegas as a physician for over two decades. Throughout this time, he has been met with much acclaim and is now the head of Emergency Medical Services in Nye County, Nevada. More details about the doctor on this page.


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