Knee Pain Going Down Stairs

Even if you don't have stairs in your house, you may find yourself climbing up and down stairs at other places like in work places or doing some activities. Then you may find some pains when doing it. And in fact, climbing down stairs puts more pressure on the knees than climbing up stairs, causing more knee pain. Is this your condition? Do you wonder about why it happens?

What Causes Knee Pain When Going Down Stairs?

There are various reasons why you might have knee pain going down stairs. Here are some common ones to consider:

1.   Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia patella can cause knee pain when you are going down stairs. It happens when there is injury to the underside of the patella or knee cap in the area of the cartilage. It is usually seen in women as well as in teens and children. Getting up from sitting or going down stairs can cause increased pain.

Common symptoms of this problem include a swelling around the knee cap, aching in the area of the knee cap, and a sensation of a grinding or crepitus when you move the knee.

2.   Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis happens when there is excessive wear and tear on the knee joint so that bone can rub against bone, causing knee pain when going down stairs. It is most common among those older than fifty and those who always do activities that stress the knee, such as working in cold weather, certain physical activities, and climbing stairs.

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and swelling about the knee, stiffness of the knee after getting out of bed or off a chair, a grinding sensation beneath the knee cap and aching of the knees even at rest.

3.   Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

You can have knee pain going down stairs from patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is also called Runner's knee. It happens when the knee cap moves in the wrong direction, causing pain with mobility. It happens in runners but can also happen in people who have flat feet, muscle imbalance about the knee, and an abnormal anatomy about the knee. It is common in athletes and you get worse knee pain when going down stairs.

Common symptoms of knee pain from patellofemoral syndrome include grinding sensation in the knee area, generalized knee pain, and a bit of swelling about the knee.

How to Deal With Knee Pain When Going Down Stairs

Fortunately, there are things you can do that will help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with this condition. The RICE technique should be your first choice when your knee is sore. RICE stands for:

  • Rest. The problem is usually exacerbated by activity, so you need to do as much as possible to avoid doing activities that make the pain worse. This means lying down on a couch or sitting in an easy chair.
  • Ice. When the knee pain is bad, you should put an ice pack on your knee. This will lessen the swelling and will decrease the amount of inflammation in the joint as well as the pain you are experiencing.
  • Compression. You should use an ACE wrap or other compressive device to wrap around the knee so that the swelling stays down or decrease.
  • Elevation. You should try to keep your knee elevated above the level of your heart so as to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

If the usual RICE method isn't effective, there are other things you can do to decrease the knee pain going down stairs. Here are a few choices:

  • Make use of adhesive tape. In this treatment, you apply adhesive tape around the kneecap itself so that pain is lessened when you are walking or going up or down stairs. The tape is useful in helping the knee cap stay in alignment while the knee is moving.
  • Check the wear of your shoes. You need to wear the right kind of shoes or boots that will effectively act as shock absorbers for the knee. People who pronate their foot too much will have flat feet, which increases the amount of stress on the knee. Orthotics can be used and are helpful in reducing the pain.
  • Exercise. You should do exercises for the muscles around the knee, which can keep the knee cap in proper alignment. Use exercises that are low impact, such as riding a stationary bicycle, swimming in a pool, and going cross-country skiing. These can build up the quadriceps muscles, which are the main supporting muscles of the knee and don't add to damage around the knee.
  • Watching your weight. If you choose to lose a few pounds, it will have a great impact on the amount of pain you experience in the knee. For every extra pound you weigh, an extra five pounds of pressure are put on the knees when going down stairs.
  • Surgical situations. In most cases, surgery is not necessary for knee pain going down stairs. Your doctor may, nevertheless, recommend it for you if others seem not helpful. The surgery is done using an arthroscope in which a small camera is placed into the knee by a scope. The surgeon can use tools via the arthroscope to clean off areas of cartilage and get rid of debris in the knee. 
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