Knee Pain Going Up And Down Stairs

Knee Pain Going Up And Down Stairs

Many conditions can cause knee pain when stair climbing. Pain in the front of the knee/knee cap is a common complaint from knee pain suffers when they climb or descend a set of stairs. Stair climbing places additional stress on injured knee tissues such as tendons and cartilage.

Knee Pain Going Up And Down Stairs

Causes of Knee Pain Climbing Stairs

1. Knee Arthritis

Arthritis takes many forms and the most common are osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis. The tissues breakdown, cartilage wears thin or tears and inflammation further increases pain. Bone spurs can develop as well. Autoimmune arthritis results when the body attacks itself and damages the joints and their supporting tissues such as cartilage, ligaments and synovium. The joint becomes inflamed, painful and swelling is noted. Warmth when feeling the joint is common in both, but the autoimmune variety generally produces more redness, swelling and warmth.


Treatment is directed at reducing inflammation by using over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, Tylenol or naproxen. Common sense home remedies such as rest, ice and elevation should be utilized. Physical activity must be reduced so that the pain is tolerable and further inflammation is avoided. Autoimmune arthritis requires consultation with a doctor who can discuss prescription medications for pain and to modify the immune system's attack on the body.

2. Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar tendinitis is very common in those who participate in jumping and running activities. The patellar tendon connects the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). Any activity that involves extending the knee, running or jumping can result in pain with activities such as going up stairs. Pain can progress and interfere with sports and even normal daily activities such as walking.


The treatment is geared at alleviating tension and inflammation of the patellar tendon. Reduce activities, ice, rest and elevate the affected leg on some pillows. Tight muscles, lack of physical conditioning or intense exercise can all trigger patellar tendinitis. Physical therapy may help to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and increase flexibility.

3. Knee Bursitis

Bursa sacks are structures found around many joints that provide lubrication and cushioning for tendons and ligaments. Frequent and repetitive activity, kneeling, squatting or trauma can result in knee bursitis. Small breaks in the skin can allow an infection of a bursa to occur. Obesity and underlying arthritis are risk factors for developing knee bursitis. Symptoms and signs of knee bursitis include visible swelling, warmth, redness and tenderness. Increasing redness or red streaks extending upward from the bursa indicate infection.


Treatment is rest, ice and OTC anti-inflammatory medications. If an infection is present, antibiotics are required. If an infection does not resolve with antibiotics, surgical drainage may be required. Any exacerbating activity needs to be avoided. Those with occupations requiring kneeling should wear kneepads.

4. Runner's Knee

This condition plagues runners, but also affects those who perform repetitive activities such as walking or kneeling. The condition results from a multitude of different activities. Essentially any activity that involves extension and flexion of the knee can cause runner's knee. Symptoms include pain and swelling, tenderness over the kneecap and a deep dull ache around the knee. Popping can occur with minimal activity and is often exacerbated by going up stairs.


Treatment is reducing any repetitious activity, applying ice and elevating the knee. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen, Aleve and Tylenol are helpful. Consider compression with an ACE wrap or compression socks to provide support and relief of symptoms.

5. Chondromalacia Patella

The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is covered with cartilage and prone to inflammation and damage. When this results, chondromalacia patella results in knee pain. This condition is more common in teenagers and females and also with overuse from sports. Muscle weakness can result in improper tracking of the patella and lead to increased damage to the cartilage. Symptoms are pain, aching, mild swelling and a grinding sensation with range of motion. Redness and impressive swelling are not part of this condition and should prompt a search for an alternative cause.


Treatment is directed at rest, ice and using OTC pain relievers. A supportive knee brace, knee sleeve or ACE wrap can help decrease pain and symptoms. Physical therapy can help if stiffness and muscle imbalance is present. Kinesiology may also help provide support and allow continued athletic performance in cases of mild symptoms. Backing off from painful activities and sporting activities is an important part of treating this condition.

6. Patellofemoral Pain

This condition results in pain in front of the knee and is commonly caused by overuse or any activity that repetitively stresses the knee joint and surrounding structures. Muscle imbalance can lead to improper tracking of the patella over the groove of the thigh bone (femur) and result in pain, inflammation and swelling. Flat feet, improper shoes or prolonged standing on a hard surface can all contribute to this painful knee problem. Pain typically comes and goes. Climbing stairs are particularly painful and stiffness is common after periods of sitting. Grinding or grating can sometimes be felt along with mild swelling due to patellofemoral problems.

7. Torn Knee Cartilage

This injury happens when you twist your knee while putting weight on it. If your knee has already been under a great deal of pressure, such as with frequent squatting, the cartilage can tear much more easily.

8. Iliotibial Band Pain

The tendon that runs down the outer side of the knee can sometimes become tight, and when you move, it rubs against the end of the thigh bone. This can lead to pain with movement.

9. Osgood-Schlatter Disease

More common in athletes and children, this is a disorder in which the patellar tendon pulls away from the bone when under stress, thus leading to a “bump” under the kneecap that causes pain upon movement. While the pain might decrease in later years, the bump becomes permanent.