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Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs: Causes, Treatment, Exercises

Are you having knee pain while walking downstairs? If yes! Then you must be surely looking for some ways to treat self and get the necessary relief to your knees. Well! Before we go any further let us explain you that knee pain is not very much surprising when you understand that the pain occurs due to a problem with Patella or the knee cap and also that the amount of force exerted on the knee cap while climbing down the stairs is almost about three and half times the body weight. Hope that will give you the hint to the cause of your knee pain while waking downstairs. To know more about this in a descriptive way, to understand the treatment modes, know about special exercises and points of consideration for preventing knee pain while walking downstairs; all you need is take your eyes through the following array of the article and get to know about how to take care of your knees.

Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs

Understanding The Knee Cap And The Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs:

Kneecap is also called as Kneepan or patella which is present in the knee and is a small thick circular bone articulating with the thigh bone and covers to protect the articular surface of the knee joint.1 Though it is a small bone it holds a huge amount of force in it with our day to day activities. As mentioned above while going downstairs, the force applied on the kneecap is about 3.5 times the body weight. Now considering an example of a person weighing 100 lbs, when he/she climbs down the stair a force equals to 350 lbs goes through the kneecap which holds a surface area of only around 12 square cm.

Apart from this it must also be explained that the kneecap or patella has a lining of cartilage meant to protect the kneecap to withstand huge percentage of comprehensive forces. However, when anything which interferes with the way the kneecap moves, the force exerted on the kneecap is greatly magnified. This is why walking downstairs causes more knee pain.

Medical Conditions That Can Cause Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs:

“There are two primary choices in life that exist. One is to accept the conditions the way they exist and the other is to accept the responsibility of changing them!”

Now diving down towards the various conditions in life which would get the symptoms of knee pain while walking down stairs; here below is what we can come up with for a better understanding. Though we will be discussing about the conditions in this section, in the later sections we will look forward to know about how to prevent knee pain and protect the knee from being affected by the conditions. However, before taking the section any further, let us inform that problems related to knee can encounter you at any part of your life, at any age. Muscle weaknesses, knee injury, over use of knee, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, chondromalacia patella etc are some of the conditions and reasons behind the knee pain while walking downstairs. Here below are the conditions explained in more detail.

  • Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs Caused Due To Chondromalacia Patella: This is one of the conditions where a person suffering feels the knee pain while walking downstairs. It is actually the condition where there is damage to the cartilage lining the kneecap. This is more common in teenagers and youngsters and seen majorly in women. Activities like climbing down or up stairs, getting up from sitting etc can aggravate the condition.

Symptoms of Knee Pain Due To Chondromalacia Patella:

  • Achy pain in the knee cap
  • Swelling around the knee
  • A grinding feeling or some kind of noise while the knee moves.
  • Osteoarthritis As A Cause For Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs: This is a condition where there occurs a wear and tear in the knee bones and cartilages. It is most common in people above 50 years of age. Usually work or activities that exert more pressure on knee like stair climbing, physical activities, cold weather etc can aggravate this condition.

Symptoms of Knee Pain Due To Osteoarthritis:

  • Stiffness after getting out of bed
  • Swelling and knee pain 2
  • Grinding feel and noise in kneecap
  • Common knee ache and pain.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome As A Cause For Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome also known as Runner’s Knee is a condition where there is a problem in the way the kneecap or the patella moves. It is noted that Runner’s knee is the most common causes of knee pain while walking downstairs. Muscle weakness or tightness, flat feet and irregular anatomy are some of the major causes for Patellofemoral Pain syndrome. Usually sportsmen are more likely to encounter this condition. Repeated physical activities, going up and down stairs etc can aggravate the condition.

Symptoms of Knee Pain Due To Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome :

  • Mild swelling around the knee
  • General knee pain 3
  • Grinding.
  • Other conditions leading to knee pain while walking downstairs include tendinitis or an inflammation of tendons in the knee, previous knee injuries and surgeries, etc.

Treatment For Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs:

  • A popular saying comes as, “All people are equal after appropriate treatment.” Now it is for sure for person suffering from the pain must be looking for some of the treatments for knee pain while walking downstairs. So here below are some of the ways one can treat self:
    Painkillers like ibuprofen which are anti-inflammatory along with paracetamol can help you ease the knee pain
  • Physiotherapy is one of the best ways of treatment in case you are dealing with the knee pain while walking downstairs. Your PT will let you know about the correct moves for your conditions.
  • Exercises are also prescribed to prevent knee pain while walking downstairs which we will discuss later in the article.
  • Taping of the Kneecap: This is a means of treatment where an adhesive tape is used to cover the kneecap and help reduce the pain in kneecap while going downstairs. The adhesive tape helps in altering the alignment of the kneecap moves.

Surgery To Treat Knee Pain While Walking Down Stairs?

In usual cases, surgeries are not advised for treating any conditions that causes knee pain while going downstairs, though it must be advised by your doctor in case none of the above treatment works on your pain.

The general type of operation required is called as Arthroscopic surgery where a tiny flexible camera is inserted into the knee which helps the surgeon see the interior of the knee joint and the cartilage and may operate via the camera tube with the help of pretty fine instruments.

Exercises To Prevent Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs:

“Pain doesn’t simply show up in our body for no reason. It shows that something needs a change in our body!” Now coming straight on the knee pain, this current section will discuss about exercises to help you get rid of knee pain while walking downstairs.

  • Low Impact Exercises For Building Muscles Around The Knee And Preventing Pain While Walking Downstairs: Swimming, riding a stationary bicycle, and doing low impact aerobic exercises to warm up and strengthen the quadriceps so as to support the knee in a safe manner.
  • Hamstring Curl For Building Up Knee Muscle Strength: Stand behind a chair holding the chair back as a support. Raise your leg towards your butts in a way that the lower leg, heel and the knee remains perfectly at 90 degree to the body. Hold the position still for about 5-10 seconds. Lower the foot and change your legs to repeat the same steps.
  • Lie on your back, keep one knee raised with heel on the floor. Keep the other leg straight and raise it to a comfortable level. Hold for few seconds and put it down. Repeat the same with the other leg.
  • Weight Reduction Exercises To Prevent Knee Pain While Going Downstairs: Apart from the above exercises and moves; the special workouts helpful in reducing your weight can also help you get rid of the knee pain while down stairs in case you are overweight or in case your weight is putting additional pressure on your kneecap.

Caution Note Before Beginning Exercises For Knee Pain While Walking Downstairs:

Listed below are some points to be considered before exercising in case you are suffering from any type of medical conditions which results in knee pain while walking downstairs:

  • Before joining any kind of exercise program, consult thoroughly with your expert doctor or Physical Therapist because certain conditions like in case of Runner’s knee and Chondromalacia Patella, climbing of stairs is to be restricted.
  • Take essential rest for better healing of your condition as per the advice of the treating doctor.
  • Avoid overusing your knee, stop climbing stairs, sports activities etc in case it is aggravating your knee pain.

Final note: Take care of your knees!

“Worry about being better; Bigger will take care of itself!” It is always required to take all the essential steps which can help us keep healthy and better from yesterday. If you are one of those who is suffering from knee pain while walking downstairs, try out the possible treatments, go for the prescribed exercises and follow your treating doctors advise to keep out of excessive pain. Above all take the best care of your knee in the best possible way you can and watch out your knees supporting you once again to stand and walk downstairs as well as climb up in your life.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 11, 2022

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