why Knee pain going downstairs- Symptoms, Causes & Solutions

One of the body’s biggest and most intricate joints is the knee. The knee connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) (tibia). The patella and the fibula, which are tiny bones that run parallel to the tibia, are the other bones that make up the knee joint.

The leg muscles that move the knee joint are attached to the knee bones by tendon. Ligaments connect the knee bones and give the knee stability.

knee anatomy

Why do you experience knee pain when climbing stairs?

Let’s go over the mechanics of knee movement in order to respond to that query.

The thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap are all joined at the knee (patella). To support your weight and enable natural leg movement, all three bones must cooperate with the ligaments and muscles that are connected to them.

The patella, a floating bone, moves along the femur in the trochlear groove with each bend. Your kneecap is held in place by the articular cartilage, which also lubricates and cushions the joint so that the bones may move smoothly against one another.

Walking with damaged cartilage might not hurt. However, the pain gets worse as the knee is put under more stress, such as when running, doing deep knee bends, squats, or ascending stairs. The kneecap slides up and down due to these movements. When the knee is put under pressure, worn cartilage cannot retain the kneecap in the groove. Pain is felt as the kneecap moves out of place.

Root causes of knee pain when Going Down Stairs

Have you ever been ascending stairs when suddenly your knee starts to hurt? Your knees may have hurt while you were descending the stairs. Contrary to popular opinion, arthritis is not necessarily the root cause of this kind of discomfort. There are numerous distinct reasons why knee discomfort occurs when going down steps. Learn more about the potential causes of your knee discomfort and how to address it by reading on.

1- Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is one of the most typical reasons for knee pain when going downstairs. What it is: The most prevalent kind of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis develops when the tissues in the joints begin to deteriorate over time; it is more prevalent in elderly people. Knee OA is a frequent condition.


Age, obesity, past knee injuries, and heredity are contributing factors in Knee osteoarthritis


The following are osteoarthritis symptoms:

  • Swelling around the joints
  • Bending the knee inward
  • Muscles around the joints deteriorating
  • Only a small range of motion

Becomes worse

is when the weather changes in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Impact on

Adults in their middle and later years, usually after the age of 50, are those

2- Runner’s Knee

Running knee is characterized by a dull discomfort in the knee’s front (patella). This is where the knee joins the thighbone’s lower end (femur). It is also called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or Anterior Knee Pain


A specific gait pattern or structural flaw in the knee could be the root of runner’s knee. Other potential factors include

  • an excessively high kneecap relative to the knee joint
  • inadequate thigh muscles
  • Hamstring pain
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • unsteady foot support
  • When moving or running, the kneecap is pulled outward by the thigh muscles.
  • excessive exercise or use
  • Injury


The most typical signs of runner’s knee include:

When you are active, you may experience kneecap and surrounding area pain. or discomfort after spending a lot of time sitting with your knees bent. Sometimes, this leads to feelings of weakness or instability.

  • When you bend and straighten your knee, you may hear a clicking, rubbing, or grinding noise coming from under your kneecap.
  • touchable tenderness in the kneecap
  • The signs of runner’s knee can resemble those of other illnesses and disorders. For a diagnosis, always consult your healthcare provider.

What worsen the Pain: Repeated motion, stairs, and extended inactivity are what exacerbate it.

Impact on: Anyone, regardless of age or level of activity, is most likely to be impacted. Statistics show that 25% of male runners and 30% of female runners experience this type of injury.

3- Knee Bursitis

A knee bursa, a little sac filled with fluid that is located close to your knee joint, can become inflamed. Between your bones and the tendons, muscles, and skin close to your joints, bursae lessen friction and cushion pressure points.

Knee bursitis can make you inflexible and create pain. Self-care techniques and prescription medications are frequently used in the treatment of knee bursitis to reduce pain and inflammation.


Knee bursitis may result from:

  • pressure that is applied repeatedly and continuously, especially while knelt on a hard surface
  • excessive use or demanding activities
  • a forceful punch to the knee
  • Bursal bacterial infection
  • Knee complications from gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis


  • Depending on which bursa is impacted and what is causing the inflammation, there are different knee bursitis indications and symptoms.
  • When you apply pressure to the affected area of your knee, it may generally feel warm, sensitive, and swollen. In addition, pain can occur even while you are at rest or when you move.
  • The symptoms of a knee injury may manifest quickly. However, most occurrences of knee bursitis are caused by friction and irritation of the bursa, which happens in vocations that demand frequent kneeling on hard surfaces; as a result, symptoms typically appear gradually and might get worse with time.

When it worsens: first thing in the morning or following periods of inactivity

Impact on: Prepatellar bursitis can affect anyone, but males between the ages of 40 and 60 are more prone to develop it than women.

4- Meniscus Tear

Both acute trauma and aging-related degenerative changes can cause the meniscus to tear. Tears are identified by their appearance as well as by the location of the tear inside the meniscus. Bucket handle, flap, and radial tears are common.

Meniscus injuries from sports frequently co-occur with other knee ailments, like torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs).


Acute meniscus tears frequently occur while playing sports. Both contact and non-contact injuries, such as those sustained during pivoting or cutting, can result in these.

Age increases the likelihood of developing degenerative meniscus tears. Tissues that is old and worn is more likely to tear. An aged meniscus could be torn by a simple twist when getting out of a chair.


The following are the signs of a meniscus tear:

  • Swelling
  • stiffness, and pain
  • your knee catching or locking
  • feeling like your knee is going way
  • your knee not being able to move in all directions

What makes it worse: is when the weather changes in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Impact on: Elderly people are the ones most frequently impacted. More than 65% of those over 65 experience some sort of meniscal tear.

5- Patellar tendonitis

An injury to the tendon that connects your patella (kneecap) to your shinbone is called patellar tendinitis. In order to extend your knee so that you may run, jump, and kick, the patellar tendon collaborates with the muscles in the front of your thigh.

Jumper’s knee, also known as patellar tendinitis, affects a lot of athletes who play sports like basketball and volleyball that require a lot of leaping. However, patellar tendinitis can occur in people who don’t engage in jumping sports.


A frequent overuse ailment brought on by repetitive stress to your patellar tendon is patellar tendinitis. The stress causes a few microscopic tears in the tendon, which your body tries to mend.

However, as the number of tendon tears increases, the inflammation and weakening of the tendon results in pain. Tendinopathy is the medical term for this type of tendon damage when it lasts longer than a few weeks.


  • Patellar tendinitis’ initial sign is pain, which is typically felt between your kneecap and the area where the tendon joins to your shinbone (tibia).
  • Your knee pain could first only become noticeable when you start exercising or right after a challenging workout. The discomfort gets worse with time and starts to make it difficult to practice your sport. Eventually, the pain makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks like getting up from a chair or ascending stairs.

What makes it worse: is when the weather changes in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Who is most likely to be affected: Patellar tendonitis can strike anyone at any age, however it is more common in persons over 40. athletes who participate in elite or professional competitions.

6- Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome occurs when the tendon in your leg that rubs against your hip or knee bones becomes inflamed or irritated. The tendon runs from the top of your pelvic bone all the way down to your knee and is located on the outside of your leg. When it becomes overly tense, it grinds on your bones (tight). Your iliotibial band may tighten for a variety of causes.

Tendons, which connect your muscles to your bones, are elastic-like, flexible fibrous fibers. When you squeeze a muscle, your tendon pushes on the bone, which causes your bone to shift.


  • excessive cooling down after exercise
  • a lack of sleep
  • not stretching out sufficiently before a workout
  • putting too much effort into your workout
  • Running on an incline or a bend
  • descending a slope.
  • exercising without sufficiently warming up first.
  • worn-out footwear


  • back pain
  • Knee ache
  • clicking feelings
  • Warmth and redness

What makes it worse: is when the weather changes in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Impact on: Frequent runners are most likely to be afflicted, but it can happen to anyone at any age.

7- Chondromalacia Patella

The cartilage on the underside of the kneecap softens and breaks down, causing chondromalacia patella (knee discomfort) (patella). When the knee and thigh bone (femur) rub against one another, pain is the result.


When the underside of the kneecap rubs on the thigh bone, chondromalacia patella frequently results, producing swelling and pain. Chondromalacia patella may be more likely to develop in those with abnormal kneecap alignment, tight or weak knee muscles, excessive knee activity, and flat feet.


dull, sharp pain that is experienced:

  • lateral to the kneecap
  • down to the kneecap
  • side of the kneecap

Flexing the knee may feel like it is grinding. This could occur:

  • bending your knees
  • descending stairs
  • descending a hill
  • Getting up after a spell of sitting

What makes it worse: is when the weather changes in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Impact on: People between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to be impacted, more frequently women than men.

Difference in muscle movement Between Climbing and Descending the Stairs

Unbelievably, the actions required for ascending and descending stairs are very different.

You directly stress a straightened knee joint as you descend the stairs. In contrast to walking, when you can glide into each new step, going downstairs involves a gradual decline. Even though it’s soft, it’s still a drop.

It can be particularly painful if you have disorders like chondromalacia (deteriorated cartilage under the kneecap) or osteoarthritis (joint inflammation). Why? However, if your knee has less cushion, the stress from your weight stepping down can hurt.

You put indirect force on a bent joint as you climb stairs. Therefore, there is less direct load on the knee joint, but there is more tension on the tendons and ligaments that surround the knee. In order to move into the following level, your knee’s tendons and ligaments must essentially stretch.

Do and Don’ts of protecting knee from pain?

Like other activities, ascending stairs requires good technique, especially if your knees are sore. However, when we were learning to climb stairs as kids, our parents were more concerned with preventing falls than they were with instructing us on the right way to climb stairs.

Examine your posture and the positioning of your feet and legs if ascending stairs hurts. These are three things to keep in mind.

  • Put your second toe over your knee.
  • Lead using your body instead of your foot. To shift your weight from your knee to your hamstrings at the back of your thigh, bend your torso forward.
  • Prior to stepping up, place your heel on the step.

For each step you take, repeat the process.

Note: Contact your orthopedic physician if your knee discomfort worsens or persists for longer than two weeks. The tendons and ligaments inside your knee may suffer serious internal damage if you keep walking on a painful knee.

Why Does Exercise Reduce Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs

Exercise, particularly isometric, motionless activities, has been demonstrated in studies to alleviate pain. Exercises with isometric resistance help lessen knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Naturally, strengthening the entire knee will also make ascending stairs much simpler.

4 Crucial Knee Exercises for Easier Stair Climbing

1- Exercise with “Mini Side Stairs”

It was a smart person who remarked, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Although I can’t be certain, I believe my great uncle Al may have been the catalyst.

For stairs, the same is true. You may get ready for the real deal by practicing on smaller sets of stairs.

The best way to do a mini side stair

  • Use a 3- to 4-inch step or a phone book. Since you’ll be climbing sideways, position yourself parallel to the step. Why? Your glute, a crucial muscle for stair climbing, instinctively contracts when you practice climbing the step sideways. Therefore, when you exercise sideways, you are teaching your body to activate the appropriate muscles.
  • For balance, make sure there is a chair on the other side. The leg that causes you the most trouble should come first. Place your foot on the step by raising it, and then raise your body.
  • Steppers are a secure tool for this kind of workout. They are often adjustable and have non-slip surfaces.

2- Exercise: Elevated Wall-Sit

Place yourself facing a wall. Step away from the wall by about two feet. Slide down the wall gradually until your knees are 45 degrees apart. Do three sets of this position held for 20 seconds each. Between sets, take a 30 second break.

Why is it crucial?

I advise starting at a 45-degree angle rather than a 90-degree angle first if you have knee problems. This can help you strengthen the area surrounding your knee and get you ready to climb stairs.

Due to the weight-bearing nature of this exercise, it promotes bone strength and density. However, because it’s isometric (you aren’t moving the joint), the knee isn’t put under as much strain.

3- Seated Floor Push

occupy a chair while maintaining a neutral spine (not slumped over and not arched back). Place your heels so that they are directly below your knees. Squeeze your glutes while driving your heels into the ground.

If you feel like you are ready to rise but lack the strength to do so, you are performing this exercise correctly. For ten seconds, maintain the position. then take five seconds to relax. Make 5 sets.

Why is it crucial?

You may recall that one of the most crucial muscles for ascending stairs is your glutes. Along with your hammiest, this workout isolates and strengthens them.

4- Reclining Wall Kick

Sit in a chair with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and face the wall. Your toes should be a few inches away from the wall. Put your foot against the wall and extend your leg. Ten seconds of holding. then unwind.

Your chair should now be moved back a few inches. The same press should be repeated 10 times. then unwind. Repeat after moving your chair backwards three times.

Why is it crucial?

This exercise builds the vital quadriceps muscle while being a safe isometric stabilizer for the knee joint. This is a crucial assistance muscle when climbing stairs and a stabilizing muscle when going down. Performing the exercise from three different angles allows you to strengthen different parts of the quad.


This article is only for informational purposes, this page shouldn’t be used in place of seeking expert medical advice. Please visit a doctor if you have knee discomfort for a precise diagnosis and treatment strategy.

Frequently asked questions ( KNEE PAIN GOING DOWNSTAIRS )

When I descend stairs, my knee pains. What does that mean?

Articular cartilage lubricates the knee joint and keeps the kneecap stable and cushioned in a healthy knee. If you get knee pain when going up or down stairs, it is probably because the cartilage is worn down and the kneecap is slipping out of place, which is painful and uncomfortable.

Why does going downhill pain my knee?

What Leads to Knee Pain While Downhill Walking? Walking downhill puts strain on your knees, which is the main cause of pain! Your knees are aware that compression forces are pressing in on you. You put more pressure on your knee joint when you hike downhill because of the additional weight.

What Knee Strengthening Exercises Work the Best?

The best knee strengthening exercises target all the muscles that surround the knee. These include the hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. The best workouts for strengthening the knees include squats, lunges, and leg stretches or presses.