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Knee pain when climbing stairs: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The knee is one of the most mobile joints in the body, which is why knee pain turns out to be one of the main reasons for consulting a trauma doctor. This ailment can occur in young people to the elderly, depending on the activity in which they perform.

Knee injuries can be due to various causes such as wear and tear on the joint, being overweight, rupturing a ligament, or damage to the meniscus. The suffering of some diseases such as gout, septic arthritis, and even osteoarthritis tend to trigger this knee pain when climbing stairs.

In this FastlyHealarticle, you will learn more about why knee pain occurs when climbing stairs: causes and treatment.


Age is a triggering factor in the appearance of pain in the knee when climbing stairs: aging wears down the cartilage present in the joint due to age and constant physical activity, which becomes evident frequently after 50 years.


If you do not present another condition at the joint level, you should visit the orthopedic doctor. He will indicate the treatment to follow after revising the knee. He will suggest rehabilitation and drug treatment will depend on your symptoms.


Overweight and obesity in people cause an overload of the knee joint, generating wear and tear. This has repercussions when carrying out a physical activity, such as climbing the stairs.


The only treatment to follow to alleviate this ailment is to lose weight. In this way, you can avoid the joint continuing to suffer from this overload and that you continue to feel knee pain when climbing stairs or other daily activities of the day today.

The practice of some sports

Exercising and practicing sports daily in some disciplines such as running, soccer, and skiing can cause injury to soft structures of the knee joint such as the menisci or ligaments. This injury or sprain to the knee gives rise to the onset of knee pain when climbing stairs or other activities.


The treatment of this alteration is based on the suspension of the sport that is giving rise to the discomfort of the knee joint. For this reason, you should go to the orthopedic doctor to evaluate the condition of the joint and comply with the treatment that is indicated according to the symptoms you present.

Use of inappropriate footwear

The use of heels in the case of women can cause some injuries and disorders in posture. Inappropriate footwear during sports can also be a trigger for knee joint problems.


To solve this problem, it would be enough to eliminate the use of high-heeled shoes for those women who have knee pain when climbing stairs and choose and wear the appropriate sports shoes, according to the physical activity to be carried out.

Spend a lot of time sitting

Immobility of the knee for a long time, such as sitting during a long trip or for hours in the office in front of the computer, causes pain in the knee when climbing the stairs and doing other similar activities.


Exercise is the best way to avoid knee pain on the stairs. After sitting or without activity in the lower limbs for long hours, it is advisable to walk or alternate posture to prevent this pain.

If this condition persists, go to your doctor, he will tell you what to do according to the symptoms you present.

Diseases such as knee arthritis

Knee arthritis may occur by inflammation and damage of the knee joint as a result of:

  • An infection.
  • Genetic causes.
  • Diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

This alteration that produces pain in the knees is characterized by the presence of symptoms such as:

  • Sharp pain during physical activity.
  • Rigidity.
  • Inflammation.
  • Deformity.
  • Knee pain when climbing stairs.


The first option is to improve symptoms through drug treatment with pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation.

Antirheumatic drugs such as Methotrexate and corticosteroids are indicated to prevent the immune system’s attack from continuing to the joint.

In cases where drug treatment does not work, the doctor will recommend the surgical option.

Chondromalacia patella

This alteration is produced by degeneration of the patellar cartilage, which is responsible for preventing one bone from rubbing against another. Patellar chondromalacia causes knee pain after sitting for a long time or starting a physical activity such as walking or climbing stairs. There is a sensation of failure where the knee does not respond, which causes pain and inflammation.

Cartilage’s chondromalacia patellae can be caused by overloading the joint or by excessive repetition of physical activity.


Drug treatment for chondromalacia patella will be indicated to relieve pain with anti-inflammatories and analgesics.

The following recommendations can also be made:

  • Massages
  • Stretching exercises.
  • Apply cold locally.

It is always important that there is a medical control to observe the evolution.

Knee bursitis

This alteration is another cause of knee pain when climbing stairs. Bursitis is the inflammation of a sac called a bursa, filled with fluid near the joint. This overload when kneeling for a long time or bacterial infections can aggravate this condition.

Pain and stiffness are characteristic of bursitis when climbing stairs.


In the case of knee bursitis, the treatment will depend on the cause that generates it.

Suppose it is an infection that gave rise to this alteration. In that case, an antibiotic will be indicated in addition to physical therapy to strengthen the knee muscles, relieve pain and avoid suffering recurrent bursitis in the knee.

If this persists, corticosteroid injections and surgery are other techniques to be used by the orthopedic surgeon.

Consult more information about this alteration in Knee Bursitis: causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Knee osteoarthritis

This pathology occurs in the knee when the cartilage has worn down due to use and age. This widespread alteration limits the functioning of the joints, causing pain, deformity, and functional limitation of the knee when performing any movement such as climbing stairs.


For the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, a combination of a series of measures to be implemented is required, such as:

  • Lose weight.
  • Perform rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the knee muscles.
  • Drug treatment to relieve symptoms such as pain and inflammation with pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.
  • In cases where osteoarthritis is severe, the doctor will recommend a surgical resolution to restore mobility to the knee.

We recommend the article Exercises for people with knee osteoarthritis.

Meniscus injury

This injury occurs when you make a very sharp turn with the knee. Subsequently, any movement made with it, such as climbing stairs, produces intense pain for several days. A meniscus injury is one of the most common knee injuries.


The treatment of this injury depends on the age, severity, and activity of the person suffering from it. If it is mild to moderate damage, you should:

  • Take rest.
  • Ice the knee.
  • Use a bandage that will serve to immobilize the knee.
  • Elevate the limb as high as possible.

Pharmacological treatment and physical therapy will be indicated to relieve both pain and inflammation.

In the cases of a severe injury, the orthopedic surgeon will indicate surgical resolution according to the degree of the damage.

Patellar tendonitis

This alteration is produced by inflammation of the patellar tendon, a tissue that joins the patella with the tibia or shin bone. The tendinitis causes pain in the patellar anterior to the walk up the stairs due to overloading of the joint that causes other nuisances to the bend, extending, or lifting of the leg.


The treatment will begin after a medical evaluation to see the degree of the injury and thus recommend a pharmacological treatment to relieve pain with analgesics such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen.

The practice of some measures to reduce the symptoms of patellar tendinitis will be recommended, such as:

If the aforementioned does not take effect, the doctor will proceed to apply other treatments, such as injections with corticosteroids or platelet-rich plasma.

Ultimately, surgery will be done as a means of solving the problem.


The accumulation of uric acid crystals in the knee joint produces gout. Although it occurs more frequently in the big toe, it can also appear in the knee.

The alteration mentioned above is caused by some foods, such as the high consumption of red meat and seafood, causing pain in the joint when performing any movement such as going up and even downstairs.


Treatment will be based on relieving pain in the joint. The doctor will indicate pharmacological treatment to alleviate pain and inflammation with analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, and Colchicine.

He will also indicate corticosteroids to relieve pain in less than 48 hours and recommend following a diet for gout, low in red meat and purines.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Knee pain when climbing stairs: causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our category of Bones, Joints, and Muscles.

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