Going Up And Down Stairs May Be Painful If Youre Living With Arthritis In Your Knees But These Strategies Can Help
If you live in a multi-story home or walk-up apartment, you know just how painstaking it can be to walk up and down stairs if you have arthritis in your knees. It may have gotten to the point of your avoiding the stairs altogether or dreaming of moving to a one-story home.
Walking up and down steps causes pain in tender knee joints because of how your weight shifts between your legs as you climb.
Climbing stairs causes more force to go through the leg than walking does, says occupational therapist , an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. That can irritate already inflamed joints.
Knee pain with stair climbing is so common that it can be one of the first clues that someone actually has osteoarthritis in the knee. In a 2014 study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, researchers reviewed the pain ratings of nearly 5,000 participants with or at high risk of osteoarthritis when walking, using stairs, in bed, sitting or lying down, and standing up.
The activity that caused them to cross the threshold from no pain to some pain most often was going up and down stairs.
Knee pain is most likely to first appear during weight-bearing activities that involve bending of the knee, such as climbing stairs.
However, there are a few important ways you can make using stairs a little easier on your joints without forever swearing off stairs. Follow these strategies to make navigating stairs easier and less painful.
Why Do My Knees Hurt When I Walk On Stairs
Ligament Injuries In addition to runners knee and osteoarthritis, another common reason your knee may hurt when going upstairs is a ligament injury. The knee joint is held together by strong bands of tissue called ligaments. There are four main ligaments in the knee joint, which include:
The anterior cruciate ligament A posterior cruciate ligament The medial collateral ligament The lateral collateral ligament
An injury to these ligaments may cause pain, swelling, and instability in the knee joint. Ligament injuries are often caused by a sudden change in direction while bearing weight on the knee, such as during a,
Should I keep walking if my knee hurts?
1. You sit for long periods of time If your knee hurts, you might want to stay off of it. But resting too much makes your muscles weaken and often makes knee pain worse. Find a way to get moving without hurting your knee. Some good exercises for people with knee pain include walking, swimming, and water aerobics.
Why do I struggle to walk down stairs?
Poor balance If you have a condition that affects your balance like vertigo, inner ear problems, or migraine for example, or you feel weaker in general, you might find greater difficulty in walking down stairs and staying upright. These factors can affect you in isolation, or you could be affected by a combination of all three.
Does damaged knee cartilage heal?
Quadriceps Tendon And Patellar Tendon Pain
Tendon pain is another common cause of knee pain going down the stairs. The tendons above and below the kneecap cause pinpoint anterior knee pain. Patellar tendon pain is often called jumpers knee.
Tendon pain responds well to a progressive strengthening . Unlike some aches and pains, tendon issues dont resolve with rest. A tendon recovers with appropriate loadingnot too much, not too little. Strengthening the tendon and surrounding muscles remodels the painful tissue, fortifying it to handle more activity in the future.
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Data Extraction And Interpretation
ARMO software was used for data extraction and interpretation. During the period when a subject descended the stair with the support leg holding the body weight , the peak values of the following data were extracted: maximum knee joint force , knee flexion angle, knee extension moment, ankle dorsal flexion angle, ankle plantar flexion moment, hip flexion angle, and hip extension moment. In addition, the peak value of the knee joint force was extracted during the shock-absorbing phase when the leading leg landed . Joint moment and joint force were normalized to body weight. The points for data extraction during FD and BD movements for angle are shown in Figure âFigure2,2, for moment in Figure âFigure3,3, and for joint force in Figure âFigure44.
Data extraction points for knee joint force in forward and backward descending movements. KJF-MAX indicates joint force maximum and KJF-LR indicates joint force loading response.
How Is Knee Cartilage Damaged
Knee cartilage fails for many reasons. Accidents, injuries, genetic deformities, overuse, and age are five common reasons for chondromalacia. Broken bones or torn muscles can cause an imbalance of strength in the leg and pull the patella to one side of the groove or the other. The added stress can cause misalignment and pain.
Overuse injuries cause cartilage damage, especially in young athletes. Growing bones and excessive stress create a recipe for a chronic condition. If young athletes complain of knee pain in training or during competition, they should stop playing. Prolonged knee pain treatment after activity indicates a more serious condition than normal muscle pain after a strenuous workout. If you experience knee pain after practice or a game that does not go away within 72 hours, you may need medical attention. Call your primary care provider, sports medicine doctor, or orthopedic specialist. Genetic deformities and age are risk factors you cant change, but there are a few things you can do to avoid cartilage damage. As the damaged cartilage may also cause sharp stabbing pain in knee comes and goes.
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How To Walk Up And Down Stairs Without Knee Pain
If you’re suffering from knee pain when going up and down stairs, it’s important to diagnose and treat the underlying condition.
At the same time, simply changing the way you walk up and down stairs can bring some relief. These changes can also help you prevent future overuse injuries.
The following guidelines can help you climb and descend steps without pain.
First, be sure to engage your whole foot with each step. Avoid stepping with just your toes when climbing or descending stairs.
Focusing your weight on your toes activates your thigh muscles. These muscles, in turn, increase pressure on the kneecap and push it into the thigh bone. We’ve seen, of course, that it is precisely this contact and pressure that causes knee pain when going up and down stairs.
Engaging your whole foot means planting its entire surface on the step before reaching for the next one. It also means shifting your weight to your outer heel to activate your glutes.
Second, keep your feet and knees aligned. When you step, your knee should be directly above your foot. If it angles in, this could indicate a muscle imbalance. These imbalances and misalignments can also cause or worsen pain and inflammation.
Third, pay attention to your posture. When climbing stairs, lean slightly forward. By leading with your body, you further reduce the pressure on your knees.
Talk To Your Doctor About Physical Therapy Or Surgery
If knee pain is negatively affecting and impacting your daily life, consider seeing a physical therapist. They can create a tailored exercise program that will help strengthen the muscles around your knee and reduce pain.
In some cases, knee pain may be due to an underlying condition that requires surgery to correct. If knee pain is severe and other treatments haven’t worked, talk to your doctor about the possibility of surgery.
Whether you’re dealing with occasional knee pain or chronic pain, following these tips can help make going downstairs a little bit easier. If you’re still having difficulty, be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist for additional help.
So there you have it our top 7 tips for avoiding knee pain when going downstairs. By following these easy and simple guidelines, you should be able to make descending stairs a breeze once again. But if the problem persists longer or gets worse, don’t hesitate to see your doctor for some professional advice. Stay healthy and happy stair-climbing!
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How To Beat Knee Pain On Stairs
Whatever is causing your knee pain going downstairs or upstairs, dont despair. There are loads of simple things you can do to make it easier to get up anddown the stairs and to reduce your knee pain.
For example, did you know it can make a huge difference which leg you leadwith as you go up and down. It might also be that increasing the strength or mobility in your kneehelps or that changing when or how you use the stairs makes a real difference.
Check out the How To Beat Knee Pain On Stairs article forour top 10 tips on how to do stairs with knee pain.
What Are The Symptoms Of Runners Knee
These are the most common symptoms of runnerâs knee:
Pain in and around the kneecap that happens when you are active. Or pain after sitting for a long time with the knees bent. This sometimes causes weakness or feelings of instability.
Rubbing, grinding, or clicking sound of the kneecap that you hear when you bend and straighten your knee
Kneecap that is tender to the touch
The symptoms of runnerâs knee may look like other conditions and health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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You Might: Have Stiff Ankles Or Tight Calves
Walking down stairs is like doing a mini single-leg squat over and over again. But in order to do those squats effectively, you need plenty of ankle mobility.
“If your ankles are really stiff or your calves are tight, you might have to move in a different way to get around that stiffness,” Canham says.
Usually, this means shifting your weight too far forward, which adds loads of stress to the knee joint. Again, you’ll likely feel pain in the front of your knee or behind the knee cap.
Just as with squats, you want to keep your heels down when you descend the stairs. âSometimes Iâll have my patients try to go down the stairs or squat with their ankles fixed,â Canham says. âThey notice that it certainly changes their mechanics!â
The next time you walk down stairs, try to keep your heels down. If your calves and ankles are too tight to manage, Canham suggests rolling out your calf muscles daily to loosen them up. This should help increase flexibility in your ankles and ease the strain on your knees.
To roll out your calves:
Knee Pain When Walking Down Stairs
Knee pain while going downstairs? Our friends at APOSHealth have written a useful article on just that, so read on to find out why this happens, what might cause it and how to help avoid it. One of the most frequent complaints about knee pain is of aching when climbing up and down stairs.
So, while taking the stairs is undoubtedly a great exercise for your overall health, it does put a lot of stress on the knees especially when going down. So, although walking up and down stairs can be beneficial as a strengthening exercise, if it causes knee pain, it may be time to consult with your physician.
Knee Anatomy and Knee Pain Your knee joins four bones: the femur , the tibia , the patella , and the fibula . The tibia and fibula connect below the knee joint, the femur connects above the knee joint, and the patella rests on the femur and the connecting cartilage.
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Is The Sound That My Knee Makes Bad
As we reviewed in a popular post about the sounds that our knees make, we discussed that the majority of these sounds are not mechanical or dangerous! That means that you are probably not bone on bone or grinding away the insides of your knee when you bend it. Yes, these sounds can be annoying or even embarrassing, but they are rarely dangerous. The most common cause of this grinding sensation or sound is actually due to inflammation of the tissues inside the knee. You do not need cortisone or lubricating injections to treat these sounds or sensations.
How Often Should I Climb Stairs
There is no set answer to this question. It depends on your individual goals and needs. If you are trying to build up your knee strength, then climbing stairs every day would be beneficial. However, if you are just looking to maintain your knee health, then climbing stairs a few times per week should suffice.
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Use A Knee Support Or Brace
If the knee is feeling weak and sore, you might find that wearing tubigrip elasticated bandage or a knee support helps reduce instability and knee pain on stairs. Ideally this should only be a short time measure while you work on knee strengthening exercises.
Once you have built up the strength and endurance in the knee muscles, you shouldnt need the extra support any more. Wearing a knee brace or support when you dont need one can actually be counter-productive because it doesnt get the muscles working as much so can lead to weakness.
Why Does Your Knee Hurt When You Climb The Stairs
Your knee connects three main bones: the thigh bone , the shin bone , and the kneecap . All three bones, along with their associated ligaments and muscles, must work in unison to support your weight and allow your legs to move smoothly.
With each bend, the patella, a free-floating bone, slides over the femur in the trochlear groove. Articular cartilage keeps your patella in position because it cushions and lubricates the joint so the bones slide over each other.
Damaged cartilage may not cause pain when walking. But as running, deep knee bending, squatting, or stair climbing put additional stress on the knee, the pain increases. These types of movements force the patella to slide up and down. Worn cartilage cannot hold the patella in the groove when the knee is under pressure. As the kneecap slips out of position, it causes pain. You may also feel knee pain when riding bike if you have sensitive knees.
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Knee Pain With Stairs Change Your Center Of Body Weight
The stairs are something that we simply cannot avoid during our daily lives therefore, we must learn how to train the knee to accept all the demands that are placed on the knee during these activities. We can do that by simply changing the center of the body weight when our knee is in the bent position such as placing a foot on a step above or below us. When we change the center of our body weight when navigating the stairs, we can reduce the demand placed on the cartilage of the kneecap and or the tendons.
Typically, when people are using the stairs, the center of their body weight, or their trunk, is leaning forward over the knee and the weight is centered in the front of the foot. The more the knee translates forward past the toes, the more stress is placed on the knee. This is known as a knee strategy,which is NOT a bad thing. However, if one is dealing with a painful knee, such as when overcoming an injury, or initially after surgery, taking some stress off the knee may be helpful. This is where a hip strategy can come into play. Rather than shifting more of the weight forward on the knee, a hip strategy utilizes more of the muscles of the hips by shifting the weight back towards the heels and decreasing the amount of forward knee translation. An example to differentiate the two is shown below.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Pfp Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome causes pain under and around the knee. The pain often gets worse with walking, kneeling, squatting, going up or down stairs, or running. It may also hurt after sitting with a bent knee for a long time, such as in a long car ride or in a movie theater.
Some people with PFP syndrome feel a popping or creaking after getting up from sitting or when going up or down stairs.
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