Four Potential Causes Of Knee Pain When Walking Down Stairs
Climbing up and down stairs is something we all have to do, but it puts a lot of stress on the knees. While you might think that going up stairs would be a likely time for a flare-up of knee pain, and youd be right, going down the stairs actually puts a slightly larger amount of body weight on the knees with each step. This is why so many people experience pain in the knees when descending a staircase when pain is either less pronounced or nonexistent in other areas.
If you are dealing with this problem and it has persisted for more than a few days to a week, you should seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional. He or she can perform an evaluation and order diagnostic testing, if necessary, to evaluate the causes of your knee pain when climbing down stairs.
Physical Therapy For Knee Injury
The first is to help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. The second involves the hands-on stuff. Your physical therapist may perform soft tissue massage to help the inflammation leave the area and move your bones around to help with joint health. joints have no blood flow, so the only way to get nutrients to them is to move them. They may also perform trigger point, stretching, foam rolling, dry needling, and other neuromuscular techniques to get the overactive muscles to do less of the work, allowing the critical third step to be effective: correcting the imbalance through specific exercises.
If you are experiencing knee pain or seeking therapy for a knee injury, contact one of our ProActive Physical Therapy clinics and a licensed physical therapist can start treating the underlying problem.
+ Share this content
How Else To Beat Knee Pain On Stairs
Here I have shared with you my top tips and tricks for getting up and down stairs with knee pain, tried and tested over 10 years as a physiotherapist. I hope that you find them useful.
But remember, it is really important to know what is causing your knee to hurt on stairs in the first place. Knee pain treatment will be slightly different depending on what is wrong you may have a cartilage tear, arthritis, an inflamed bursa or something else entirely causing your knee pain on stairs. There are a number of different knee problems that can cause knee pain going up and down stairs. LEARN MORE >
So get checked out, follow the advice given here, do your exercises and take back control so you can beat knee pain on stairs.
Also Check: Does Slitting Your Wrists Hurt
How To Beat Knee Pain On Stairs
Whatever is causing your knee pain going downstairs or upstairs, dont despair. There are loads of simple things you can do to make it easier to get up anddown the stairs and to reduce your knee pain.
For example, did you know it can make a huge difference which leg you leadwith as you go up and down. It might also be that increasing the strength or mobility in your kneehelps or that changing when or how you use the stairs makes a real difference.
Check out the How To Beat Knee Pain On Stairs article forour top 10 tips on how to do stairs with knee pain.
Physical Therapy For Knee Pain When Climbing Down Stairs
When you meet with your physical therapist, he or she can perform an assessment of your posture and mechanics as well as a hands-on examination of your knee. With this information, therapists can determine the underlying issues that are causing pain when descending the stairs.
At Rehab Access, our team of highly skilled and caring therapists have decades of experience in helping people overcome knee pain and get back to a healthy and active lifestyle. Learn more about how we can help you and schedule your initial appointment when you contact us today.
Also Check: Can Sciatica Cause Stomach Pain
When Is Climbing Stairs Bad For Knees
When you put your knees too much into the activity, it might leave you in the disadvantaged position. People who have existing kneecap and knee joint problems should take this exercise under medical advice. And while stair routines could strengthen the legs, recent knee replacement surgery can make this workout dangerous. Also, even when taking two steps seems to be a good idea, it could create a high strain on the knee joint and make knee problems worse.
People who feel pain and stiffness on the knees even while sitting should seek medical attention immediately. Some conditions like chondromalacia patella, often present as pain when climbing the stairs.
How To Walk Up And Down Stairs Without Knee Pain
If you’re suffering from knee pain when going up and down stairs, it’s important to diagnose and treat the underlying condition.
At the same time, simply changing the way you walk up and down stairs can bring some relief. These changes can also help you prevent future overuse injuries.
The following guidelines can help you climb and descend steps without pain.
First, be sure to engage your whole foot with each step. Avoid stepping with just your toes when climbing or descending stairs.
Focusing your weight on your toes activates your thigh muscles. These muscles, in turn, increase pressure on the kneecap and push it into the thigh bone. We’ve seen, of course, that it is precisely this contact and pressure that causes knee pain when going up and down stairs.
Engaging your whole foot means planting its entire surface on the step before reaching for the next one. It also means shifting your weight to your outer heel to activate your glutes.
Second, keep your feet and knees aligned. When you step, your knee should be directly above your foot. If it angles in, this could indicate a muscle imbalance. These imbalances and misalignments can also cause or worsen pain and inflammation.
Third, pay attention to your posture. When climbing stairs, lean slightly forward. By leading with your body, you further reduce the pressure on your knees.
You May Like: Vertical Wrist Cutting
What Causes Chondromalacia Patellae
The most common causes include:
- Excessive use of the knees: This can result from running, jumping, or any activity that requires heavy use of the knees. Chondromalacia is often called “runner’s knee” for this reason. It occurs in people of any age and is common in young, active athletes.
- A kneecap that is out of alignment: If the kneecap is not in the proper position, the cartilage will not be able to protect it from rubbing. Some people are born with a misalignment of the knee that can cause this issue.
- Weak muscles in the thighs, hips or calves: The leg muscles help support the knee and keep it in place. If they are not strong enough, the knee may not track appropriately. Even a slight misalignment can gradually wear down the cartilage and cause pain over time.
- A knee injury: An accident, fall, or blow to the knee can throw the kneecap out of proper alignment, damage the cartilage, or both.
How To Deal With Knee Pain
If you are experiencing knee pain going up or down stairs, or in general, there are a range of treatment options available that are non-invasive and will likely reduce inflammation and pain.
One of the most common ways of dealing with knee pain is RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If youve injured your knee or are experiencing knee pain, these four at-home treatments can help.
- Rest your knee and stop any activity that may be causing you pain.
- Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Apply cold for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day, immediately following an injury or the activity that caused pain. Icing can be followed by applying heat once the swelling is gone.
- Compression involves wrapping or bandaging your knee to reduce swelling to immobilize it. Its important not to wrap your knee too tightly. And if the pain doesnt improve after a couple of days, consult your physician to rule out a more serious knee injury.
- Elevate your foot and knee on pillows whenever you are seated to keep the swelling down. Even better, lay down and keep your knee elevated above your heart level.
2) OTC Medication
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be effective in treating knee pain temporarily, but if pain worsens, there may be an underlying cause that has to be looked at.
3) Weight Management
4) Exercise and Physical Therapy
5) Support Aids
6) Biomechanical Devices
7) Prescription Medication
Also Check: Stomach Pain Pregnancy Sign
Chronic Pain And Fatigue
If your joints ache, your muscles are sore, and you feel pain all the time, you are probably looking for relief.
When you have chronic pain, you may also feel consistently tired. Perhaps you also have a loss of stamina or flexibility that makes you feel irritable, depressed, or filled with anxiety.
To help you understand what’s happening to your body, weve gathered information on these topics and put them in one convenient place.
Whether youre experiencing fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or another condition, you’ll get answers to your most pressing questions so you can have an informed conversation with your healthcare provider .
You’ll learn about what may be at the root of your chronic pain or fatigue and access information about chronic pain management. Youll discover how medicationsboth over-the-counter and prescriptioncan play a role in helping you feel like yourself again. Self-care approaches, dietary suggestions, supplements, and stress-reduction plans may all play important roles in your care plan, as well.
Because there could be many causes for chronic pain, as well as many treatments, your HCP can work with you on diagnosing your underlying medical condition and developing a plan tailored specifically for your situation.
Explore these topics to start, then discuss them with your HCP.
Treatments For Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs
If you experience knee pain up or down the stairs, or in general, there are a variety of treatment options available that are not invasive and can reduce inflammation and pain.
One common way to deal with knee pain is RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If you have injured your knee or are experiencing knee pain, these four home remedies can help.
- Rest your knee and do not stop any activity that may cause you pain.
- Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Apply cold for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day, immediately following a wound or activity that has caused pain. Icing can be followed by applying heat once the swelling is over.
- Compression involves covering or closing your knee to reduce swelling to prevent it. It is important not to force your knee. And if the pain does not improve after a couple of days, consult your doctor to remove a serious knee injury.
- Elevate your leg and knee over pillows whenever you sit to keep the swelling down. Better yet, lie down and keep your knee high above your heart rate.
2. Do Lighter Exercises
Low-impact exercises such as swimming, Pilates, cycling and sometimes walking on level surfaces are good options to keep muscles strong without having to worry about knee pain. Depending on the underlying cause of the problem, a health professional may recommend several exercises. Examples of exercises to stretch and strengthen the quadriceps muscles A reliable source includes:
You May Like: Lidocaine Cream For Back Pain
Who Is At Risk For Chondromalacia Patella
Many people are surprised to find their cartilage is damaged because theyve never hurt their knees in the past. Unfortunately, chondromalacia can be brought on by more than an accident or injury.
People who are at risk for developing chondromalacia patella include:
- Those who are overweight
- People who have had an injury, fracture, or dislocation related to the kneecap
- Runners, soccer, basketball, tennis players, weightlifters and exercise enthusiasts, cyclists, and other people who exercise often
- Teenagers and healthy young adults, more often females
Is Climbing Stairs Bad For Knees: The Verdict
Going up and down the stairs has a lot of benefits on its own. Compared to the regular exercises, climbing stairs has twice the positive effects and better results. Although some conditions might pose restrictions when doing this routine, it is one best and convenient way to keep a healthy lifestyle. Having a climber in your place will inhibit weakness in hips and joints from developing. Hence, climbing stairs could be in many aspects, beneficial, but never bad for the knees.
Also Check: Most Common Side Effects Of Lidocaine
Going Up The Stairs With Sharp Kneecap Pain
What can you do, then? A physical therapist, after a proper diagnosis, will guide you with exercises.
Its very easy for a doctor or physical therapist to quickly diagnose chondromalacia patella based on a clinical exam.
A physical therapist will likely have you doing leg extensions, with the goal of eventually using a weight machine.
Leg extension. George Stepanek/CC
Leg extensions strengthen the structures surrounding the kneecap, including the quadriceps muscles, which attach to the kneecap via tendons.
As these muscles become very strong and durable, you will notice perhaps a complete disappearance of your sharp knee pain.
With an overall fitness regimen and a healthy body weight, you can once again be walking, even running, up flights of stairs without any discomfort.
But you must be consistent with the strengthening exercises. Stopping them is bound to cause a return of the pain.
And remaining at a healthy body weight is also crucial. The knee is the most unstable joint in the body. Excess weight, over time, can only harm this joint.
Dr. Berginis a general orthopedist, surgically and conservatively treating all manner of bone and joint conditions. She enjoys educating patients so they can emerge stronger than they were before their orthopedic injury or surgery.
The Mini Side Stair Exercise
Whoever said, If you dont use it, you lose it was a wise person. I think it might have started with my great uncle Al but I cant be sure about that.
The same thing is true for stairs. Mini dosages of stairs can help you prepare for the real thing.
Use a phone book or a 3-4 inch step. Position yourself parallel to the step because youll be going up sideways.
Why? When you practice going up the step sideways, you naturally engage your glute muscle which is a key muscle used in stair climbing. So you are training your body to fire up the right muscles when you practice sideways.
Make sure you have a chair on the other side for balance. Start with the leg that often gives you trouble. Lift your foot up and place it on the step. Now that your foot is on the step or phone book, lift your body up.
3 Important things to think about.:
Stand up fully. When you are ready to step down. Follow the same steps as above. Ie Put pressure on your outer portion of the heel and keep the knee over the second toe.
Recommended Reading: Are Stomach Cramps A Sign Of Pregnancy
Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Climb The Stairs
Joe asked himself that question every time he stood at the bottom of the steps and looked up at the landing. The stairs had become a physical endurance test. Each step caused searing pain in his knees no matter how slowly or carefully he climbed. The pain, which started in his right knee, now affected his left. Most of the time, Joe avoided the stairs by sleeping on the couch in the den and storing his clothes in the desk drawers. But, today he needed his suit from the bedroom closet.
Has knee pain ever caused you or a loved one to avoid activities?It may be due to damaged cartilage in your knee. The clinical name for the condition is chondromalacia patellae, also known as Runners Knee.
Use The Right Footwear
The quality of the shoes you wear when using a stair climber can also have an impact on the stress placed on your knees. Shoes that don’t provide adequate support around the foot and ankle or that are ill fitting can cause injuries to your knee joints. The right shoe for stair climbing, explains the American College of Sports Medicine in their online brochure “Selecting and Effectively Using and Elliptical Trainer or Stair Climber,” provide adequate support as well as cushioning.
You May Like: Which Doctor To Consult For Neck Pain And Headache
Lifestyle Tips To Manage Chondromalacia Or Knee Pain
Usually, the first line of treatment for chondromalacia includes resting, stabilising, icing the joint to help reduce the pressure on the kneecap. However, the following tips may help alleviate the symptoms of chondromalacia and other knee problems:
Diet: Eat a healthy diet consisting of a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains that will ensure a balance of nutrients and boost your overall health. Reduce your intake of foods high in added sugars, unhealthy fats. A balanced diet will also help you maintain a healthy body weight, which is one of the best things you can do for your knees and joints.
Exercise: Include low-impact activities such as walking, swimming in your fitness routine as this type of exercise can help strengthen the legs and keep the muscle healthy without putting stress on the knees.
Avoid triggers: Avoid activities that can cause or worsen the pain. For instance, if climbing stairs or squatting make the pain worse, you should stop doing them, instead, focus on activities that are good for you.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep every night is important to help reduce pain and fatigue.
Orthotics: Usually, doctors prescribe these special shoe inserts to help treat or support foot, leg and back problems.
Some people also use pain relief drugs such as ibuprofen to help reduce discomfort. The good news is, whether you have chondromalacia or knee pain, you can still lead a healthy, active life with proper treatment and lifestyle modifications.