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Four potential causes of knee pain when walking down stairs

August 4th, 2019
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 you’d 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.

What are some potential causes of knee pain that occurs when climbing down stairs?

While you should never self-diagnose and treat an injury, learning about potential causes can help you take a more active role in your treatment while helping you to be more engaged with your care provider. 

Here are four potential causes of knee pain that can cause pain when climbing or descending stairs: 

  1. Muscle strain Although usually a minor injury that can improve with time, strained muscles around the knee can make it difficult and painful to go down the stairs. 
  2. IT band syndrome — The iliotibial, or IT, band is a long tendon that runs from the pelvis to the top of the shin, over the side of the knee. Inflammation of the IT band can cause severe knee pain when walking, running, climbing stairs and other activities.  
  3. Ligament sprain or tear — Ligaments like the ACL and MCL that help join the knee can become sprained or even torn, causing pain that manifests when climbing stairs. These injuries can become serious conditions that require surgery in some cases, so prompt diagnosis and treatment is critical.
  4. Compensatory injury — Foot and ankle injuries can alter our natural biomechanics and put additional load on the knee when going down the stairs, causing painful sensations. 

For these and other causes of knee pain, one method of treatment that can be particularly effective is physical therapy. 

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.