Fat Pad Taping
The following fat pad taping techniques are designed to unload and support the infrapatellar fat pad of the knee, correct abnormal patella alignment (contributing to fat pad impingement) and subsequently reduce stress on the knee’s fat pad during activity. They can be used for both the treatment and prevention of knee injuries, particularly those associated with an irritable fat pad or abnormal patella tracking causing subsequent infrapatellar fat pad impingement.
You should discuss the suitability of these taping techniques with your physiotherapist prior to using them. Generally, they should only be applied provided they are comfortable and do not cause an increase in pain, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, swelling, itchiness or excessive redness of the knee, foot or ankle.
What sort of tape should be used for Fat Pad Taping?
There are many different tapes and bandages available for use by physiotherapists and patients. However, when the purpose is to restrict undesired motion, support the infrapatellar fat pad and improve positioning of the patella, only adhesive, non-stretch (rigid) sports tape is appropriate. (For fat pad taping 38mm is usually the most appropriate size). This should always be used in combination with hypoallergenic tape as an underlay, such as Fixomull.
Benefits of Fat Pad Taping
When used correctly, infrapatellar fat pad taping techniques can:
- Decrease pain during sport or activity
- Aid healing of certain knee injuries (such as infrapatellar fat pad impingement)
- Correct patella alignment
- Allow an earlier return to sport or activity following injury
- Reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation
- Prevent knee injuries (such as infrapatellar fat pad impingement) during high risk sports (such as netball, basketball, football, soccer etc.)
- Improve activation of the VMO muscle (Inner Quadriceps – figure 1)
Indications for Fat Pad Taping
It is generally beneficial to tape the infrapatellar fat pad in the following instances:
- With certain knee injuries – such as fat pad impingement where abnormal patella tracking is contributing to the injury (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist as certain knee injuries should not be taped – such as some fractures).
- To prevent injury or injury aggravation – Fat pad taping may be beneficial during sports or activities that place the knee at risk of injury or injury aggravation (such as netball, basketball, football, soccer etc.) particularly in individuals with a recent history of fat pad impingement.
When should I avoid Fat Pad Taping?
Fat pad taping should be avoided in the following instances:
- If you have certain injuries such as some fractures (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist)
- If you have a skin allergy to sports tape
- If the taping technique results in an increase in symptoms such as pain, ache, itchiness, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, swelling, or excessive redness of the knee, foot or ankle.
- If you have sensory or circulatory problems
Weaning off fat pad tape in general activity is usually recommended as strength, range of movement, patella positioning, biomechanics and balance improve and symptoms reduce. In these instances though, taping during high-risk activity (such as sport) may still be recommended.
Fat Pad Taping Technique
The following fat pad taping techniques may be used to provide support for the infrapatellar fat pad and knee and to reduce abnormal patella positioning contributing to fat pad impingement. Generally it is recommended that the knee is shaved 12 hours prior to taping (to prevent painful removal of hairs and skin irritation). The skin should be cleaned and dried, removing any grease or sweat. Low irritant Fixomull tape should be applied as an under-wrap to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation with rigid sports tape over the top of this.
Correcting Patella Tilt
Begin lying on your back, with the knee slightly bent, but completely relaxed and a foam roller or rolled up towel under the knee. Holding both ends of a line of tape, place it firmly down onto the top of the knee cap so the top third to half of the knee cap is covered by the tape (figure 2). This technique is designed to tilt the patellar so the top half of the knee cap moves towards the thigh bone, with the lower half subsequently moving further away from the shin bone, reducing compression of the patella on the fat pad. Repeat this process 1 – 3 times depending on the amount of support required.
Complete Fat Pad Taping
Removing the tape
Care should be taken when removing the tape to avoid injury aggravation or skin damage. The tape should be removed slowly, pulling the tape back on itself with pressure placed on the skin as close as possible to the line of attachment of the tape. Generally tape should be removed within 48 hours of application or sooner if there is any increase in pain or symptoms (including skin irritation or itchiness).
Fat Pad Taping Summary
- Knee Stretches.
- Knee Strengthening Exercises.
- Leg Stretches.
- Leg Strengthening Exercises.
- Balance Exercises.
- Lower Limb Gym Exercises.
Other Taping Techniques
- Patella Tendon
- Posterior Ankle Impingement
- Tennis Elbow
Find a Physio
Find a physiotherapist in your local area who can help with Fat Pad Taping.
- Patella Dislocation.
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.
- R.I.C.E Regime
- Ice or Heat?
- How to Use Crutches
- Warming Up and Cooling Down
- Injury Prevention
- Return to Running
- Return to Sport
- Choosing a Shoe
- Do I Need Orthotics?
- Knee Diagnosis Guide
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