Medical Taping may provide the solution to hay fever
CureTape does not contain any medicinal additives. Even so, a first exploration in the form of a pilot study held in 2016 showed that 84% of hay fever patients who used Medical Taping experienced a significant alleviation of their symptoms. It appears that this is mainly because of the calming effect CureTape has on the allergic reaction mechanism and the connective tissue. In addition, the tape stimulates the neurogenic system through the skin.
The results obtained by applying CureTape’s Medical Taping in patients with hay fever are highly positive. This is good news for the 4 million Dutch people who suffer from hay fever. Some 20% of the population suffers from hay fever. Generally, symptoms
start in spring, due to the pollen released by trees, grasses and plants. The human body automatically creates antibodies to pollen, but in people with hay fever the body responds very violently indeed. In a way, the defence mechanism overreacts. As a result, the mucous membranes will produce much more mucus, which will cause a
wide range of symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and watery eyes. Fatigue and fever are common symptoms, as well. Some people suffer from hay fever all year round.
How can Medical Taping help against hay fever?
The idea behind the elastic tape method is that we can reflexively affect the tissue structures of the spinal cord segments associated with the innervation area by means
of external stimuli that can be perceived by the skin. The kinesiotape that is directly applied to the skin stimulates sensory receptors, which in turn stimulate the body’s neurogenic system.
What happens in the body when we have an allergic reaction?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to the pollens released by bushes, grasses and trees. Hay fever patients’ immune system immediately responds when pollen enters the body. It causes the body to produce the antibody IgE (immunoglobin E). IgE binds to mast cells (mastocytes) and to basophil granulocytes. Mast cells can predominantly be found in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, intestines and skin.
Basophil granulocytes are white blood cells with granules (little bubbles with their own membranes in the cytoplasm of certain cells in the body). These granules contain several substances, such as histamine. The IgE receptors are on the membrane of the cell to which the pollen grains bind. These pollen grains are antigens. The basophils and mast cells produce histamine, which causes the allergic reactions that are characteristic of hay fever. The blood vessels dilate and start leaking. In addition, histamine causes the smooth muscle cells in the lungs to contract.
Segment-related explanation for how the tape possibly works
Certain parts of the body have segmental relationships. Our muscles, bones, organs and the various regulatory mechanisms that make up our body’s system all interact. These systems include the sympathetic nervous system (which, among other things, causes the lungs to have more oxygen) and the parasympathetic nervous system (which helps the body get rest and recover).
The lungs and the immune system play an important part in hay fever. The lungs’ reflex areas are located predominantly towards the back of the thorax. The sympathetic nerves which provide motor innervation to the lungs are located in the Th2-Th5 segments.
The 10th cranial nerve (vagus nerve) provides parasympathetic innervation. This important floating cranial nerve – the longest cranial nerve in the body – originates from the brainstem and has bifurcations to other vital organs in the body. The tape treatment consists of segmental support by means of a dorsal tape (i.e., a back tape) that is applied to this area of the lungs. Perhaps the reason why the symptoms are eased is because of the calming effect on the allergic reaction mechanism. The sympathetic system is getting a break, so to speak.
Mechanical explanation for how the tape could work
There has been some discussion in medical literature about a type of connective tissue, the fascia, which plays a major part in the defence put up by our immune system. There are several types of fasciae, which come in different thicknesses. They form a network that crosses the entire body. A disturbance in this network may cause symptoms in the body, which may cause fluctuating levels of tension. The body is able to resolve such tension itself, but patients often need treatment to ensure that their equilibrium is restored more quickly.
A fascia contains many sensors. By applying a piece of tape to the skin, one stimulates the fascia, thus causing the tension level to change. As a result, the connective tissue calms down. This, in turn, has a positive effect on the immune system, as a result of which the body will respond less violently to substances causing hay fever and produce fewer antibodies that will cause an allergic reaction.
It is believed that tension in the fascia and/or a stimulus provided to the sensory receptors in the skin has a positive effect on the influence exerted by immunoglobulin IgE, and thus indirectly on the release of histamine.
How to use hay fever tape
Based on the results obtained from the completed evaluation surveys, a team of physiotherapists (all of whom will take part in this year’s follow-up study) decided to apply the hay fever tape as described below this year.
How often to apply the tape?
Judging from the first review, a positive effect is noticeable after one single application of the tape, but a second application of the tape one week later tends to ease the symptoms even more. A third tape applied another week later may result in an even better result, but the alleviation of symptoms following a third application is less significant. We recommend keeping the tape in place for at least five days, then applying another tape one week later, if necessary.
How to prepare for a taping session
It is essential that the patient’s skin is clean and not oily, so ensure that the client will show up with freshly washed skin. The client is not to use any shower products containing oil prior to the application of the product. If the client’s skin does feel oily, it can be cleansed using CureTape Clean Skin Taping Spray if necessary. If your client is an adolescent or adult, use a 5cm CureTape roll and allow the client to pick a colour of his/her own choosing. If your client is a child, we advise cutting the 5cm CureTape in half and using strips 2.5cm wide, or alternatively, using a 2.5cm roll of CureTape.
Tape No. 1: Dorsal lung area (back tape)
Preparation and length measurement
- Ask your client to sit on the treatment table with a straight back.
- Before determining the length of the tape, measure the distance between the occiput and PSIS.
- Cut two strips to this length, put the strips on top of each other upside down (with the release paper turned inwards) and make sure the ends are rounded.
Applying the tape
- Tell your client to be seated and to round his/her back completely, with his/her chin on his/her chest and his/her arms crossed in front of his/her chest. It is vital that the back be round.
- Tear off the release paper and fold open the paper sheets. Place the centre of the tape paravertebrally at Th2 level. Now laterally apply the upper half of the strip across the supraspinatus area.
- Now paravertebrally apply the lower half of the strip under the notch, following the edge of the costal margin while stretching the tape very lightly (10%-15%).
- Rub hard across the tape construction to fix it in place, then repeat the procedure on the other side.
- Tell the client s/he is allowed to sit up again.
Please note: In this particular taping method, designed to alleviate the symptoms of hay fever, no tape is applied to the spinous processus due to segmental stimulation, which is most significant in the midline.
Tape No. 2: Pectoralis Major (chest tape)
Preparation and length measurement
- Measure the tape along the stretched arm (external rotation of the arm, plus additional retraction and abduction of the shoulder). Measure from the centre of the deltoid muscle to the sternum or the sternoclavicular joint (AC). Cut the tape to this length.
- Cut two Y-strips and make sure the ends are rounded.
Applying the tape
- Place the base of the Y-strip in a neutral position at the origin of the pectoralis major. Tell your client to stretch the muscle by moving his/her arm backwards and turning his/her head away, thus causing the fascia of the neck to be stretched.
- Place the upper strip of tape along the proximal aspect of the pectoralis major muscle, until the point where it reaches the sternum, while stretching the tape 10%-15%.
- Apply the second strip along the lateral aspect of the pectoralis muscle, making sure that you do not place this strip across the nipple. Ensure that the strip is stretched 10% to 15% while you apply it.
- Repeat this procedure on the other side, and be sure to rub hard on the tape construction to fix it in place.
Please note: Analysis of the returned 2016 survey forms shows that slightly improved results can be obtained by taping both the back and the chest.
Medical Taping results in hay fever pilot study (analysis of 2016 evaluation survey forms)
Analysis of the evaluation forms collected from clients has shown that 84% of the hay fever patients treated indicated that their symptoms subsided after the application of hay fever tapes as part of the Medical Taping Concept. However, the results of the pilot study require a more extensive study.
In order to help us gain a more specific insight into the beneficial effect of Medical Taping to alleviate hay fever symptoms, 139 hay fever patients joined us in a test case last year. The analysis was performed by several physiotherapists and co-ordinated by Harry Pijnappel, who is an instructor at FysioTape, as well as the author of the Medical Taping Instructions book, of which some 25,000 copies have been sold by now, in seven different languages. Furthermore, Harry took the initiative for the www.tapingbase.nl website, an easy-to-use knowledge bank that mainly provides information on research and an exchange of information regarding Medical Taping. The results of the hay fever study were analysed in SPSS and processed by a health sciences student at the University of Twente.
In this first pilot study, CureTape was applied to the participants’ backs in two C-shaped semi-circles in the lung area, with the backs of the Cs nearly touching each other. In addition, some of the participants had the pectoralis muscle at the front of their bodies taped using two short pieces of CureTape, which were applied across the chest muscles from the shoulders down. The participants were asked to leave the tape in place for five days. One group of 85 persons underwent one taping treatment. Twenty-six persons had a hay fever tape applied twice, whereas one group of 22 persons underwent taping three times.
The main outcomes of this pilot study
- 84% of participants experienced alleviation of their symptoms after one, two or three taping sessions. The degree of alleviation was quite spectacular with regard to certain symptoms, resulting in a VAS score of up to 80%.
- The participants indicated that eight out of nine symptoms were significantly reduced after just one treatment.
- A similarly significant reduction in symptoms was observed after the second taping session.
- The symptoms were further reduced after the third taping session, too, but this time the level of reduction was less significant.
- The best results were obtained when the participants had both their back and chest taped.
Prior to the study, the participants identified a runny nose and sneezing fits as the most annoying symptoms of hay fever. Itchy and/or red eyes, shortness of breath and an itchy palate were very common symptoms, as well.
Generally speaking, the nine symptoms that were evaluated were reduced by 18% to 53% in all participants after one taping session. These percentages rose following a second taping session, which, depending on the nature of the symptoms, resulted in improvement rates between 38% and 83%. Symptoms continued to be further alleviated after a third taping session, but improvement rates were less spectacular this time than after the first two taping sessions.
The participating clients saw the greatest improvement in terms of shortness of breath and flu-like symptoms, regardless of whether they had undergone taping once, twice or thrice. In addition, they reported a 60% reduction in itchy and red eyes after two and/or three taping sessions.
Runny nose and shortness of breath
Another notable find was that at least two taping sessions were required to alleviate clients’ runny nose and shortness of breath. After the second taping session, symptoms quickly subsided by at least 39% in clients suffering a runny nose, and by at least 38% in clients suffering shortness of breath. After three taping sessions, runny nose patients reported a 57% reduction in symptoms, while patients suffering from shortness of breath reported a 48% reduction in symptoms.
No scientific evidence
Please note that this test case does not constitute scientific evidence. The study population of 139 persons was too small for that. In addition, some of the participants in the test case were already taking hay fever medication, and there was no study component investigating the placebo effect, whereby the effect of placebo tape could be subtracted from the effect of CureTape.
However, the results of this first test case in which three test groups were used were so hope-inspiring that a larger study will be conducted this year, in which ten physiotherapy practices will be involved. This study will involve all participants being taped equally often, and in exactly the same way. The tape will be applied both to the back and to the front of the body. We expect that, when we use the results of this study, we will be able to submit a formal study proposal to the Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects.
Results expressed as VAS scores
Please find below a chart showing the positive results of the pilot study involving three taping groups, and the VAS scores obtained prior to and following taping.
Wish to alleviate hay fever symptoms by undergoing a Medical Taping treatment using CureTape®?
Make sure that you are treated by a professional therapist who is familiar with the Medical Taping Concept!
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