Knee Clicking Up Stairs

Discomfort during regular use of stairs is often the first symptom you may notice if you have a knee issue. Many underlying causes are harmless and can be ignored, however, the greater effort of stair use can quickly highlight more severe underlying ailments. Not all symptoms are created equal a knee clicking up stairs can point to several different causes some of notable concern and others being completely harmless. These very different causes are detailed below.


Ailments Knee Clicking Up Stairs May Point To

There are several different conditions that can cause joint noises such as knee clicking up stairs. The most common ones include the following examples.

Mild/Non Harmful Causes

It is important to understand that just because your knee is making clicking noises when you climb up stairs that doesn’t necessarily mean there is a serious underlying medical issue. The important thing to keep in mind is, “Are there any additional symptoms ?”. If your knee is clicking but there is no associated pain, swelling, or movement related difficulties then the cause may be of a nonharmful variety.

  • Anatomy of knee muscles in watercolor and pencil. Hand drawn.

    Ligaments Tightening: some pops and clicks are caused by ligaments loosening as you move and they are stretched out. If your ligaments become tightened noise can be produced when you move. In many cases, tight ligaments are not a risk for any type of injury and may only necessitate mild stretching.

  • Synovial Fluid: your knee joint is not composed entirely of solid materials such as bone or ligaments. Synovial fluid is a white viscous liquid that serves as your joints’ natural lubricant. As you move gas can escape the fluid causing clicking noises. This is completely harmless.
  • Cartilage Rubbing: as you age cartilage can grow unevenly in the knee joint. This causes no pain but due to the cartilage being uneven when your knee is bent it can create clicking or cracking noises.

Causes Of Medical Concern

In other situations, knee clicking can be caused by much more severe knee related ailments. These conditions are accompanied by several other more painful symptoms.

  • Osteoarthritis: this condition is caused by the general degeneration of your joints with age and the gradual breakdown of cartilage in the knee. Osteoarthritis can cause knee clicking, swelling, pain, and make stair use very difficult. It is not a condition that can be fully treated but home care can reduce the impact of its symptoms.
  • A Torn Meniscus: the meniscus refers to the cartilage discs in your knee joint. Tares to the meniscus are common in athletic activities or in situations where the knee is bent at odd angles. Common symptoms include joint noises, the knee feeling weak, swelling, pain, and a reduced range of motion. Depending on the severity of the tear it can heal on its own but surgery may be required.
  • Runner’s Knee: caused by the kneecap being out of alignment. Runner’s knee is often accompanied by clicking noises, mild pain, and swelling although in mild cases clicking may be the only symptom. It is a condition that is caused by strenuous physical activity, bad posture, and deformities in the knee itself. It is a common injury and can be relatively mild overall with at home treatment adding in a faster recovery.

Possible Treatments For Knee Related Medical Ailments

Depending on the cause of knee clicking up stairs several different treatment methods can be employed to treat the underlying issue. As noted above not all causes are medical in nature, however, for clicking caused by medical problems the following treatments can help.

  • At Home Treatment Methods: PRICE standing for protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate. PRICE is a common treatment plan for knee ailments that is easy to perform at home. For mild knee injuries PRICE helps reduce swelling, reduces inflammation, and can assist in the healing process. Over the counter, anti-inflammation medication can also assist in pain relief.
  • Physical Therapy: in cases where a longer recovery time is involved (such as ligament tears) physical therapy can assist in the strengthening and recovery process. In addition to carefully designed exercises, massages, stretching, knee braces, and bands can also be used to assist in the healing process.
  • Workouts: in many cases, knee clicking can be caused due to a lack of joint and associated weak muscles. Regular workouts can stretch out the joint, strengthen muscles, and improve overall physical health.
  • Surgery: in rare cases, corrective surgery may be required. Note that this is often only for the most severe of knee injuries and only in cases where the knee will not (or cannot) heal on its own through other less invasive treatment methods.


Difficulty Climbing Stairs Causes

Common daily aches and pains can be a sign of greater underlying issues or the early stages of a medical ailment. If you have experienced pain while climbing stairs this could be a sign of a joint related health issue or a symptom of an internal condition affecting one of the body’s various systems such as cardiovascular or nervous. Difficulty climbing stairs causes can vary greatly and have several different root causes.

What follows are the most common difficulty climbing stairs causes, how to best approach each condition, and common methods of treatment.

Anatomy of knee muscles.

The Most Common Difficulty Climbing Stairs Causes

Knee Related Issues

In many cases, if you’re having difficulty climbing stairs various knee ailments could be the cause. However, despite similar symptoms (knee pain), the causes can be very different.

  • Osteoarthritis: is a common cause of pain when using stairs. Osteoarthritis tends to occur if you are over the age of 50, it is a degenerative ailment caused by your joints wearing down as you age. Osteoarthritis reduces the cartilage in the knee which leads to bone spurs. Symptoms can include knee stiffness, pain, a reduced range of motion, and swelling. There is no treatment for osteoarthritis, however, there are ways to reduce its impact. Common treatment methods include over the counter pain medication, exercise, knee braces, ice packs, heating pads, stair rails, injections, and increasing your overall daily movement.
  • Tendon Damage: the term tendon damage covers various injuries. In particular damage to the patellar tendon is felt when using stairs. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and inflammation. It’s a common issue with athletics and those in very active professions as overuse of the quad muscles can strain the ligament or cause small tears. Treatment can include rest, icing the knee, compression wraps, and elevating the knee as it heals. Commonly referred to as RICE this type of home treatment can greatly aid in recovery from common knee injuries.
  • Runner’s Knee: the most common of all knee-related injuries is runner’s knee. Despite the name, it does not just effect runners as it can also affect nonathletes as all of its causes are not related to physical activity. While related to the patellar tendon runner’s knee and its related symptoms are focused around the kneecap itself. Causes can include tight muscles, bad foot position or posture, weak muscles, or atomy issues with the knee itself such as its shape. Symptoms include stiffness, general pain, and notable issues when walking down stairs. Treatments include the above-noted RICE method, strengthening exercises, knee braces, increased stretching, orthotics, pain medication, and in severe cases surgical repair.

Other Difficulty Climbing Stairs Causes

While knee issues are among the most common causes of difficulty when climbing stairs, not all issues are related to joint health. There are ailments that affect the cardiovascular and nervous systems that can cause difficulty when climbing stairs. Often pain or difficulties when using the stairs may be an early sign of one of the bellow ailments.

  • Blood Clotting: blood clots are an ailment that can affect the lower legs. When these clots accumulate symptoms can include warmness to the touch, leg pain, swelling, discoloration, and the legs feeling heavy. The most common cause of blood clots is poor circulation and the most common treatment method is a perception of blood thinners.
  • Herniated Disk: a herniated disk can affect the legs and is found in young or middle-aged people more often as elderly people tend not to have this condition. Symptoms can include weak muscles, reduced reflexes, leg and back pain, tingling, and numbness. These symptoms affect the back and travel down to the legs often only affecting one side. Treatments include pain medication, ice, steroid injections, massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, and more rarely surgery.
  • PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease): is a circulatory problem where your limbs do not receive enough blood flow due to narrowed arteries. PAD is commonly caused by plaque build up in the arteries restricting blood flow. Symptoms can include cramping in the calves, thighs, and hips after climbing stairs, numbness, weakness in the limbs, discoloration, sores that don’t heal properly, and slower toenail growth. Treatment methods include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, medication, and surgery to treat the underlying causes.
  • Femoral Nerve Compression: the femoral nerve is found in the upper thigh and transmits movement signals and sensations to major muscle groups in the leg. Damage to the femoral nerve such as inflammation, pressure, or injury can cause weak legs, groin pains, leg pains, and greatly limit the ability to use stairs. Causes aside from outside injury can include diabetes, tumors, pelvic features, and internal bleeding. Due to having so many different root causes treatment greatly depends on what caused the condition in the first place, however, treatment methods include therapy, medication, or surgery.
  • Weak Leg Muscles: lastly, when considering difficulty climbing stairs causes your ailment may not be medical at all. A lack of physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, or a career seated at a desk can mean your leg muscles are simply not receiving sufficient use. Regular workouts a few times a week can strengthen leg muscles and reduce movement related difficulties. Be sure to consult your doctor or a health professional for the safest and most effective workout for your health-related needs.

Final Considerations

As the above information shows, difficulty climbing stairs causes cover an assortment of different ailments and injuries. Some of the causes are as simple as sports injuries and may only require rest and recovery. While others such as blood clots can lead to far more damaging health concerns if left untreated. The important thing to understand is that problems walking up stairs merely point to an underlying cause that can greatly vary in its impact on your overall health.

If you notice such difficulties schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine what is causing your symptoms. Once you are fully aware of what the underlying ailment is your physician can then advise the next course action and the best approach to your treatment.


Knee Pain Climbing Stairs

Knee Pain Climbing Stairs is a very common ailment. If you have ever had knee pain climbing stairs there could be several different reasons why. Despite being a common daily activity climbing stairs puts a surprising amount of pressure on your knee. If you experience pain when climbing stairs this is often a sign of an underlying knee issue you may not have been aware of. Here are the most common knee ailments that cause knee pain climbing stairs and various ways to approach treatment.

Knee Pain Climbing Stairs Common Causes And Treatment Methods

  • Runner’s Knee: or Patellofemoral Syndrome is one of the most common knee ailments. As the name suggests it does affect runners but they are far from the only people who can have this condition. Runner’s knee tends to be a condition that builds up over time with pain becoming more noticeable. Causes can include tight muscles pulling at the kneecap, weak muscles putting more stress on the knee joint, knee bones not lining up correctly, and posture related causes such as foot position and the angle of your thigh bone. Symptoms include inconsistent pain, grinding noises, swelling, pain when using stairs, stiffness after sitting or laying down, and notable pain when performing strenuous activities. Treatment can include PRICE (an acronym standing for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation), knee braces, stretching, strengthening exercises, moving around more, not overexerting yourself, over the counter pain medication, and very rarely surgery. Runner’s knee, in general, does not point to structural damage to the knee and is more caused by irritation and joint overuse. With that said healing can take from as short as a few weeks to as long as six months depending on cause and severity.
  • Chondromalacia Patella: is related to runner’s knee but constitutes its own condition despite being similar. The key difference is Chondromalacia Patella is accompanied by a weakening or damaging of the knee cartilage. It is commonly found in younger people who are athletically inclined with women tending to suffer from it more often. Causes include a badly aligned kneecap, flat-footedness, imbalanced muscles chiefly in the leg area, and physical overexertion. Symptoms mirror runner’s knee with swelling, mild pain, grinding noise, stiffness, and pain when using stairs. Treatment options include PRICE (see above), strengthening exercises, knee braces or supports, pacing of physical activities, anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, and very rarely surgery. In general with rest and exercise recovery can be made in a few months.
  • Pes Anserine Bursitis: is not technically the knee itself but does cause pain in the general area of the knee. Located just a few inches below the knee joint Pes Anserine Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa sac and tends to affect women more than men. Causes can include poor workout techniques such as not properly warming up, repeated stress to the knee, being overweight, injury, and tight muscles (typically hamstrings). Symptoms can include swelling, pain, tenderness to the touch, a reduced range of motion, and difficulty sleeping. Treatment methods include anti-inflammatory medication, rest, strengthening exercise (with proper stretching), and use of ice. More severe symptoms may require physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and rarely surgical removal of the bursa sac if symptoms do not improve.
  • Arthritis: joint pain when climbing stairs is one of the most common symptoms of arthritis. In general the majority of arthritis is defined as osteoarthritis. The causes of osteoarthritis is a lifetime of wear and tear on your joints. As you age the cartilage in your knee breaks down, knee bones thicken, and bone spurs occur as knee bones grow. As a condition osteoarthritis generally affects those over the age of 50. Common symptoms include pain, a reduced range of motion, knee stiffness, and swelling. As a condition osteoarthritis is a permanent degenerative joint condition and cannot be fully recovered from. However, proper treatment methods can reduce the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms and their impact on your overall quality of life. By increasing exercise, making use of heat and ice, wearing a knee brace when symptoms flare up, improving your diet, and making use of pain medication you can limit the impact of osteoarthritis. In the case of stairs leading with your stronger leg and adding a handrail can greatly reduce the pain stair use can cause.
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease: is a disease that commonly causes knee pain in young people between the ages of 9 and 16. It is an inflammation of where the knee meets the patella tendon. Affecting one in five adolescents it is more common in boys and tends to affect those more include to athletic or physical activity. OSD is caused by ‘growth spurts’ wherein the bones of the leg increases in length far faster than muscle growth can keep up. This results in very tight muscles which pull at the knee tendons. Symptoms include tenderness, inconsistent pain, pain when performing physical activities, and a bony lump just below the knee. Treatment options include common treatment methods such as braces and support devices, anti-inflammatory medication, PRICE, and rest. However, OSD is a condition that can flare up even after a recovery in which case treatment should be undertaken again. Luckily, OSD is an ailment that most surfers grow out of by the age of 16 but some adults have reported continuing issues.


Knee pain climbing stairs does not indicate a specific knee ailment or the severity of any underlying issue. Indeed you can have the exact same knee ailment as someone else and make use of completely different treatment methods. Your health, age, existing medical, concerns, the type and severity of your knee injury all affect treatment. With so many factors that have to be considered always consult a medical professional before starting any at home treatment regiments. Proper examination assures you are aware of the type and scope of any knee issues you may have. A doctor can also specify treatment methods that work best for your unique life situation and current health needs.

Knee Hurts Going Down Stairs

Knee ailments are one of the most common joint ailments and have a multitude of causes. Most people encounter a knee injury of some type at some point in their life. A problem can occur in figuring out what type of knee of injury you may have and how to treat it. Knee injuries have common symptoms and there is some overlap. In fact, when your knee hurts going down stairs it can be a sign of several different possible ailments. Here are four of the most common, their causes, symptoms, and possible methods of treatment.

1. Possible Condition: Osteoarthritis

  • Causes And Symptoms: osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by the degeneration of cartilage and the bones of the knee itself. It is common if you’re over the age of 50 and is caused by the wearing down of joints over your lifetime. In addition to knees hurting when going down stairs, other symptoms include swelling, stiffness, pain, reduction in movement, and grinding noises.
  • Treatment: currently there is no exact treatment for arthritis however, there are ways to reduce symptoms. Common treatment methods include heating or ice, working out, knee braces, weight loss, medication, and always leading with your stronger leg when walking down stairs.

2. Possible Condition: Chondromalacia Patella

  • Causes And Symptoms: the cause of Chondromalacia Patella is damage to the cartridge of the knee specifically in the back of the joint. Symptoms include pain, swelling around the kneecap and joint noises such as grinding or clicks. It is commonly found in young patients and can be caused by flat feet, extensive use of the leg, a muscular imbalance, of the kneecap itself not sitting right.
  • Treatment: common treatment methods you may use include increased stretching, exercises, knee braces (strap types), shoe inserts, ice, standard pain medications, and in extreme situations surgery is an option. It is important to note that unlike arthritis you can recover from Chondromalacia Patella however, this is a long recovery time and can take several months.

3. Possible Condition: Pes Anserine Bursitis

  • Causes And Symptoms: this condition is named after the part of your body it affects the pes anserine bursa. The pes anserine bursa is a small sack filled with fluid that reduces the friction between your knees bones and tendons. This inflation is visible on the inner side of your knee a few inches below the knee joint. This condition causes your knee to hurt when going down stairs (going up stairs is noted to hurt more) and makes sleeping on your side quite painful. Common suffers of this condition include swimmers, runners, and people who are overweight with women being more common.
  • Treatment: methods of treatment are common for joint issues and include increased stretching, ice, resting the joint, exercises, and physical therapy if needed. More extreme symptoms may require medical injections from your doctor or in rare cases corrective surgery.

4. Possible Condition: Runners Knee

  • Causes And Symptoms: lastly, is runner’s knee the most common cause of your knee hurting going down stairs. It is also one of the most common knee issues with sports clinics reporting it as accounting for 25% of all knee ailments they encounter. This condition occurs due to the kneecap putting too much strain on the knee’s cartilage due to tight muscles, weak muscles, flat-footedness, and other physical causes. Symptoms include grinding noises, mild pain, and low amounts of swelling.
  • Treatment: methods of treatment are easy and can be done at home. Your options include ice, stretching, strengthening exercises, over the counter pain medication, braces, rest, orthotics, and simply moving around more. In rare cases, surgery may be required but this is far from common.

Final Thoughts

There are many different ailments that can cause knee hurts going down stairs. Before deciding on any type of treatment or pain coping strategy always consult your doctor. This is important because you need to know what the root cause of your knee pain is before beginning treatment. Also, always listen to proper medical advice on what treatment methods to undertake. While not all knee ailments are treatable even in the case of arthritis steps can be taken to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Knee Pain Walking Down Stairs


Whether you live in a two-story building or not, walking down stairs can often be unavoidable on a daily basis. If you experience knee pain going down a flight of stairs or even just a few steps, it’s often because of your kneecap (patella). Your knee cap is a small bone, but it’s placed under undue pressure daily, which makes it hard for it to move around. Walking down stairs puts even extra strain on your patellofemoral joint, which is the underside of your kneecap. To protect your kneecaps, each one is surrounded with the thickest layer of cartilage in your entire body.

When you are walking down stairs, your kneecap feels extra pressure and stress since it feels up to 4x your body weight. That means that a 150 pound person feels almost 600 pounds in their kneecap when they are going down a flight of steps. If anything interferes with how your kneecap moves or how your cartilage is surrounded around it, you’ll feel knee pain going down stairs.

Causes of Knee Pain Walking Down Stairs

These are some of the most common reasons of knee pain going down stairs:

Runner’s Knee

While Runner’s Knee accounts for 25% of knee injuries by athletes, it also affects non-runners and sedentary people. It remains the number one cause of knee pain going down stairs.

  • Definition: It’s a problem in the way your knee cap (patella) moves, which puts extra pressure on the cartilage.
  • Causes: muscle weakness, muscle tightness, flat feet, and problematic shape of your kneecap or groove.
  • Symptoms: achiness at the sides and underneath the knee, grinding/grating sounds of the knee, mild swelling
  • Aggravated by: walking down stairs, kneeling/squatting, repeated activities, extended periods of inactivity.
  • Treatment Options: The main goal is to reduce pain and swelling by using one of these methods.
  • Rest your knee until pain reduces. Use ice or cold packs for 10 minutes to reduce swelling and reapply after two hours.
  • If you experience knee pain after inactivity, aim to walk around a bit once every 30 minutes. This keeps your knee joint lubricated and makes it easier to walk downstairs without pain.
  • Wear a brace to support your knee and keep the patella in place.

Chondromalacia Patella

This condition often gets mixed up with Runner’s Knee, but it affects the back of your knee instead. It also tends to affect teens and young adults more often, especially females. Chondromalacia Patella happens when your kneecap rubs against a bone versus merely touching it.

  • Definition: It’s damage to the cartilage at the back of your kneecap.
  • Causes: Muscle imbalance, flat feet, overuse of that leg and knee, and poor alignment so the kneecap sits either too high or too low.
  • Symptoms: achiness and front knee pain, grinding/grating noises, minor swelling and tenderness, knee pain going down stairs.
  • Aggravated by: going down stairs, getting up from a seated position, playing sports
  • Treatment options: In order to properly treat this, it’s imperative to know what’s causing it. The first part of treatment often involves studying your leg muscles. It’s is also important to realize recovery takes a few months.
  • PRICE-Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. This is the first step in reducing pain and inflammation to begin your recovery process.
  • Try some kneecap exercises, as well as general strengthening exercises. This will help with the muscle imbalance and improve your kneecap.
  • Take some NSAID’s to help with the pain.
  • Re-think your work-out routine. Avoid running for awhile and try something easier like swimming.

General Treatment Ideas

  • Buy different footwear. Wearing the correct footwear will help in absorbing some of the shock and protect your kneecap. If the arches of your feet roll inward, you’re likely to have a flattened arch, which puts even more pressure on your knee. Consider getting some personalized orthotics.
  • Lose some weight. This is the perfect time to lose a few pounds. For every pound of your body weight, your knees feel an extra four pounds on your knees when going down a flight of steps. Even if you lost five pounds, your knees would feel 20 pounds less pressure, which could be a lot less pain.
  • Perform some flexibility exercises. If your knee, calf, hamstring, or ITB muscles are tight, it will cause pain in your kneecaps. Performing some exercises to strengthen your quadriceps, your glutes, and your ankles reduces the pressure put on your knees.

For more information about knee pain walking down stairs, please see some of our related sections:

Knee Pain Going Down Stairs

One of the most common forms of knee pain is knee pain when going down stairs.

Going down the stairs produces a lot of stress on sensitive joints and ligaments around the knee, so it’s possible to experience pain in this situation even if you have no other knee discomfort. In fact, going down stairs is a significantly more burdensome activity than climbing up them.

Many different conditions can produce knee pain going down stairs. An accurate diagnosis is key, but your own observations about your condition will help your doctor get it right.

Some of the conditions that might cause this pain include:

1. Runner’s Knee

This common condition is often experienced by people who run or jog frequently, hence the name. It is usually caused by muscle weakness or tightness in the muscles around the patella or kneecap – a small, freestanding bone. It’s characterized by kneecap pain and mild swelling.

Runner’s knee treatment includes home care such as stretches and exercises that strengthen the glutes and quads. Cryotherapy is generally helpful for reducing the inflammation and pain of runner’s knee. When anatomical issues contribute, special insoles may help prevent attacks.

2. Chondromalacia Patella

This condition is caused by damage to the cartilage lining the kneecap. Sufferers experience an aching pain in the kneecap along with mild swelling. In addition to knee pain going down stairs, the condition may be aggravated when standing up from a seated position.

The condition is most likely among younger people who engage in regular exercise. Women are more often affected than men. Kneecap stretches and exercises are common self-care. Rest, icing, and elevation help, as will non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.

3. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect joints throughout the body. The knees are some of the most frequently affected areas of the body. Sufferers are likely to notice stiffness in the morning, reduced range of motion, and pain in the affected joints.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common age-related afflictions. Over time, degradation of the cartilage can result in bone spurs and make the bones themselves more prone to breakage. No treatment can completely resolve the issue, but symptoms can be reduced and quality of life preserved.

Various forms of medication can be prescribed to control symptoms and slow the progress of the condition. Hydrotherapy, stretching, and physical therapy targeting damaged knee joints can also provide relief and preserve range of motion into later life.

4. Pes Anserine Bursitis

The pes anserine bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that serves to reduce the friction between tendons and bone around the knee. Because the pain is centered in an area about 2-3 inches below the joint, on the knee’s inner side, it is often easy for sufferers to recognize.

Runners and swimmers are at enhanced risk of pes anserine bursitis. Women who are overweight are somewhat more likely than overweight men to encounter the issue. Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid injection that reduces pain and makes other treatments more effective.

If you suffer from frequent knee pain going down stairs, it is important to seek treatment as soon as you can. Knee pain going down stairs can be a sign of a serious condition, including degenerative issues that require long-term care.

When evaluating knee pain, a doctor may take a wide range of diagnostic images. These may include a traditional x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound. The ultrasound, which uses sound waves to develop an image of the body, is especially helpful because it can pinpoint problems in soft tissue.

Blood tests may also be necessary if arthritis and certain unusual infections are suspected.

Knee Pain Going Down Stairs But Not Upstairs

If you are experience knee pain going down stairs but not upstairs, you’ve come the right place.  There is a vast amount of information about knee pain on stairs in general and on knee pain going up stairs, but a lack of information specifically tageting knee pain going down stairs.

While all of the main causes of knee pain can be applicable to situations where you have knee pain going down stairs but not upstairs, there are usually just a couple of likely causes and they are easy to remedy.

knee pain going down stairs but not upstairsBelieve it or not, going down stairs actually puts more weight or force on your knee cap than going up stairs.  It can be as much as 4x your body weight.  So, if you weigh 200 lbs, the force on your knee cap when going down stairs can be as much as 800lbs!  That’s a lot of force and that’s why your knee cap has the thickest layer of cartilage in you entire body on the back of it.

It is almost always damage to the knee cap or the cartilage on the back of it that causes knee pain when you go down stairs but not up.

The most common cause is a condition called runner’s knee.  This is caused by prolonged periods of repeated, stressful, activities – such as running, jumping or even standing and twisting on your knees.

The second most common cause of knee pain going down stairs but not upstairs is a condition called Chondromalacia Patella.  Patella means knee cap.   You can determine this is the condition that you have by moving your knee joint.  Most often, you’ll here clicking and/or grinding in the knee.  This noise / feeling combined with knee pain only when going down stairs is the combination of conditions that indicate Chondromalacia Patella.

The really good news is that no matter what the cause, the solution is the same to fix the issue. R.I.C.E. — that stands for:

1. Rest.

Because these conditions are both caused by your activities you need to take a break from those activities.

2. Ice

Applying ice to you knee reduces the swelling and stops the pattern of inflammation, pain and damage.

3. Compression

Tightly wrapping your knee can caused relief of pain and help reduce swellings.

4. Elevation

Raising your knee slightly while laying down will also help reduce inflammation, swelling and pain.

For more details visit our more detailed page on knee pain going down stairs

Knee Pain Going Down Stairs

When you experience knee pain when going down stairs, it often is a sign of an issue with your knee cap (patella) and it’s ability to move around.  Your knee cap is a relatively small bone but it is placed under extreme pressure during every day activities.  To be able to withstand these forces, the knee cap is lined with a thick layer of cartilage on the back.

knee pain going down stairsWhen you are going down stairs, the force exerted on your knee cap is often 4x as much as your body weight.  By comparison, regular walking might apply a force of half your weight.  Anything that interferes with how your knee cap moves or the cartilage lining on the back will cause pain when going down stairs.

The two most common causes of knee pain going down stairs are:

1. Runner’s Knee

A common condition that most affects individuals that partake is repeated activities that involve their knees.  While the name may suggest that it only applies to runners, any activity can cause it to occur.

If you have runner’s knee, you will experience pain when going down stairs and it usually includes swelling and tenderness on the kneecap.

Getting rid of your knee pain going down stairs is easy:

  1. Reduce or eliminate repetitious activity until healed.
  2. Apply ice.
  3. Elevate the knee when you can.
  4. Take a pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Aleve.
  5. Optional: compression with an ACE wrap or compression sock.

2. Chondromalacia Patella

Don’t let the name scare you.  Chondromalacia Patella is simply damage to the cartilage on the back of the kneecap.  You’ll usually experience an “achy” pain on the knee cap, slight swelling of the knee cap and, it’s telltale sign – a clicking and/or grinding felling or sound when you move the joint.

You’ll notice the pain most often when standing up from sitting, during sports and, of course when going down stairs.

Chondomalacia Patella most often affects young, healthy people and is more common in women than in men.

To find out more about the causes of knee pain going down stairs please visits our related sections:

knee pain going up stairs or knee pain when climbing stairs

Knee Pain Going Up Stairs

Knee pain going up stairs is very common, and, unlike many other knee pain issues, it occurs in people of all ages.  Quite often, people who experience knee pain going up stairs are perfectly fine and mobile while walking on flat ground or standing.  Knee pain going up stairs can be caused by a large number of things and is something that should be taken care of as it can get worse depending on the root cause.

The most common causes of knee pain going up stairs are: (in order of likelihood)

1. Runner’s Knee

runner's knee

As you may have guessed from the name – this condition most commonly affects runners – but it can also affect others who perform activities over and over such and walking or kneeling down.  Simply put, any activity that involves extending your knee can cause runner’s knee.

Usually, people with runner’s knee will experience pain, mild swelling and tenderness on the kneecap – often accompanied by a deep dull aching feeling around the knee.  Sometimes popping can occur with almost no activity.  These conditions are often exacerbated by going up stairs.

If runner’s knee is the cause of your knee pain going up stairs, then you’re in luck because the treatment is simple:

  1. Reduce or eliminate repetitious activity until healed.
  2. Apply ice.
  3. Elevate the knee when you can.
  4. Take a pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Aleve.
  5. Optional: compression with an ACE wrap or compression sock.

2. Knee Arthritis

knee-arthritisArthritis is one of the most common human ailments and can take many forms.  The most common forms are osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is when tissues break down and cartilage wears thin – causing inflammation.  This inflammation increases the pain you feel even more.  Over time, bone spurs can develop.

Autoimmune arthritis occurs when the body “attacks” itself and causes damage to joints and their supporting tissues.  The joint, in turn, becomes inflamed and pain and swelling occur.

Home treatment for Knee Arthritis usually involves using pain relievers such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, combined with rest, ice and elevating the knee.  Physical activity should be reduced as much as possible.  Autoimmune arthritis requires consultation with a doctor.

3. Patellar Tendinitis

patellar tendinitisDo you run and/or jump alot?  Then you may have Patellar Tendinitis.  This condition gets it’s name from the affected tendon – the Patellar tendon.  The Patellar tendon is the one that connects your kneecap to your shin bone.  Almost any activity that involves extending your knee repeatedly can cause this condition.  Pain usually starts during activities such as sports and then progresses to every day activities such as going up stairs.

Similar to the other members of our top 3 causes, treatment for Patellar Tendinitis is simple.  Reduce activities, apply ice, get rest and elevate the knee.

We hope that you’ve found the cause of your knee pain going up stairs.  For a more exhaustive list, visit our Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs page.

Knee Pain When Climbing 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.

View the top 3 causes of Knee Pain Going Up Stairs

Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar tendinitis can cause knee pain when climbing stairs. Patellar tendinitis is a painful condition and can be debilitating. The patellar tendon connects the patella ( knee cap ) with the larger bone of the shin ( tibia ).

A significant amount of stress is placed on the patellar tendon during activities that require repetitive sprinting and jumping movements. Typically, patellar tendinitis is associated with overuse. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain where the patellar tendon joins the kneecap
  • Knee stiffness
  • Knee pain/stiffness when squatting or climbing/descending stairs
  • Cracking sounds in the knee when the knee is bent ( crepitus )


Knee bursitis can cause knee pain when climbing stairs. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa ( i.e. fluid-filled sac near the knee joint ). A bursa lies between muscles or tendons and bone and aids in reducing friction during movement. Each knee has 11 bursae. Although any of these bursae may become irritated/inflamed, the bursa that lies over the knee cap and the bursa on the inner side of the knee, but below the knee joint, are the most frequently affected.

The following are known causes of knee bursitis:

  • Kneeling for prolonged periods
  • Knee trauma
  • Bacterial infection of the bursae

Common signs and symptoms associated with knee bursitis include an area of the knee that’s warm to the touch or swollen, pain and tenderness when pressure is applied to the affected area and anterior knee pain when stair climbing.

Chondromalacia Patellae

Chondromalacia patellae can cause anterior knee pain when ascending stairs. Chondromalacia patellae is the weakening and degeneration of cartilage on the underside of the kneecap. Often times, the kneecap is not tracking properly when the knee is bent, so the knee cap wears done much like a car engine would if the gears were unaligned. In older individuals, chondromalacia patellae may be caused by osteoarthritis (OA) of the kneecap.

Common signs and symptoms associated with chondromalacia patellae include:

  • Knee pain made worse with stair climbing
  • Knee tenderness and a grinding sensation when the knee is extended or straightened