Painful knees can make life practically intolerable, significantly affecting your ability to move about, particularly the ability to climb stairs. Pain in the front of the knee is usually related to the patellofemoral joint. Climbing stairs increases compression at this joint, adding stress on cartilage and tendons.
What Causes Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs
One cause of knee pain when climbing stairs may be knee bursitis, the inflammation of a bursa (a fluid-filled sac) which lies between muscles or tendons and bone and helps reduce friction during movement. Each knee has 11 bursae and, although any of these may become inflamed, the bursa over the knee cap and that on the inner side of the knee and below the knee joint, are most frequently affected. Bursitis may be caused by kneeling for long periods, knee trauma or bacterial infection of the bursae. Symptoms may be an area of the knee warm to touch or swollen; pain or tenderness when pressing on the affected area and frontal knee pain when climbing stairs.
Patellar tracking disorder also causes knee pain when climbing stairs. The kneecap is set in a thick tendon that is attached to your lower leg bone and should glide along a channel in the thigh bone as you bend and straighten your knee. Sometimes the kneecap shifts out of the channel which leads to patellar tracking disorder. This can be caused by muscle weakness on one side of the thigh muscles, meaning that the kneecap is pulled toward the stronger side.
Body structure may also contribute to knee pain when climbing stairs. The angle of pull on the quadriceps tendon is influenced by the alignment of the hips, thigh bone and lower leg bone. This alignment, known as the “Q-angle,” tends to be larger in women than men. A larger Q-angle can pull the kneecap outward so that it slides out of the channel when the knee is moved. Flat arches in feet can also cause the kneecap to track improperly. After a while, this may cause pain with normal activities such as climbing stairs. This pain will usually subside with rest.
Similarly, chondromalacia patellae causes knee pain when climbing stairs. This is the deterioration of cartilage on the underside of the kneecap. As with patellar tracking disorder, the kneecap is not tracking properly when bent, so it wears down as a car engine would if the gears were out of alignment. Chondromalacia patellae may be caused by osteoarthritis in older people. The symptoms include knee pain which worsens when climbing stairs; tenderness of the knee and a grinding sensation when it is straightened or extended.
Prevention Of Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs
The best way to prevent knee pain is to keep the muscles that support your knees strong and flexible. Start slowly. If walking causes knee pain, don’t try running; warm up before working out and then cool down afterwards. If engaging in high impact activities, only do them on alternate days; steer clear of running up and down stairs and full squats. Knee exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the knee are essential to prevent knee pain and injury. Also, reducing weight reduces stress on the knee.
You may also want to try a natural dietary supplement. These drug-free medications can give pain relief similar to other drugs, but without the possibly harmful side effects. Supplements also aid the growth and repair of healthy tissue within the body and so help to prevent knee pain when climbing stairs.