If you’re the type of person who frequently takes the stairs, then you may know the feeling of experiencing soreness or pain in the knee. But it’s important to know that experiencing knee pain when going downstairs is a normal thing!

There are numerous reasons why this experience is common around the world. In this blog post, we will discuss those reasons and offer some solutions to help alleviate the discomfort.

Stay tuned for more information!

Structure of the Knee Joint

To start, let’s dive shortly into the structure of our knees.

The knee is a complex joint made up of the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and patella (knee cap). The latter is found at the front of your knee. This joint is connected by a series of ligaments, tendons, and muscles that provide stability and prevent excessive movements.

The knee joint has all the muscles it needs to remain very strong and stable. But as a person’s body weight increases, goes through normal wear and tear while aging, or has a previous knee injury, the demand for the articular cartilage of the knee also increases, thus creating knee problems.

When descending, the person’s body weight is transferred from the quadriceps muscle to the hamstrings, which puts more strain on the joint. In addition, going downstairs requires the person to bend their knees more than normal, which also leads to a painful knee experience if they aren’t training properly.

Potential Causes for Knee Pain When Going Down Stairs

Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is a common condition that affects the patella, or kneecap. The patella is the small bone in the front of the knee that helps to protect the joint.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also sometimes referred to as anterior knee pain, occurs when the patella is put under excessive and repetitive stress. This can cause pain and inflammation in the knee joint. You can experience patellofemoral pain when going downstairs due to anatomical abnormalities, age, flat feet, or weak muscles.

Iliotibial Band (IT Band) Syndrome

Another type of knee injury is IT band syndrome. This condition affects the iliotibial band, which is a strip of tissue that runs along the outside of the leg from the hip to the shin. Iliotibial band syndrome occurs when the iliotibial band becomes tight or inflamed.

This can cause pain on the outside of the knee joint. A person can feel this syndrome during and after a workout routine. Without proper rest, you’ll begin to feel pain in your knees when walking anywhere.


Knee osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that affects the cartilage in the knee joint. When this happens, your bones move irregularly. After all, cartilage is a type of tissue that cushions and lubricates the joint. Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include stiffness, tenderness, swelling, bone spurs, and a loss of knee flexibility.

Muscle Weakness

Finally, muscle weakness or a muscle imbalance can also lead to knee pain. The quadriceps muscles are responsible for straightening the leg. The hamstring muscles help to bend the leg. If these muscles are weak, they can put extra strain on the knee joint, leading to pain and instability when walking downstairs.

Tips for Going Down Stairs

There are a few things you can do to help prevent knee pain when going downstairs.

  1. First, try to keep your knee as stable as possible. This means avoiding any sudden movements or twists.
  2. Second, be aware of your knee movements and take your time when climbing or descending stairs. If you feel any pain, stop and rest for a moment.
  3. Third, make sure your leg muscles are strong and flexible. This will help to support your knee joint and reduce the risk of pain.
  4. Finally, don’t forget to warm up before going downstairs to avoid having a sore knee. A short walk or light jog will help to get your muscles ready for the activity ahead. Make sure you also have adequate stretching and rest.

By following these tips, you can minimize or avoid knee pain and keep stair climbing a part of your daily routine you don’t dread.

Common Ways to Treat Knee Pain

When you begin experiencing knee pain walking down stairs, there are several treatment options you can explore to prevent it from worsening.

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is often the best way to treat knee pain during its early stages. After an initial assessment, the physical therapist will develop a customized treatment plan. This may include exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee, as well as modalities to reduce inflammation.

The physical therapist will also guide you on how to properly use crutches or other assistive devices if needed. In most cases, physical therapy is successful in reducing knee pain and improving function.

Medication and a Knee Brace

A healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help control the pain and advise you to wear a knee brace. Some common options include over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, as well as prescription-strength medication.

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may also be recommended.

The knee brace can help ease this pain by providing support and stability to the joint. It can also help to protect the knee from further injury. There are a variety of different types of knee braces available, so it is important to choose one that is right for you.

If you have any doubts, it’s always best to consult with a doctor or therapist.

If the knee pain is already too much, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged ligaments or cartilage. This is generally the last resort because it always has (even though rare) potential risks associated with each procedure.

Weight Management

You may also need to see a health care provider for a physical exam and potentially to discuss whether you are at a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight for a long time through a diet and avoiding activities that put undue stress on your knees can also help prevent pain.


For young adults, having a great exercise routine is one of many easy things to do, but it is also vital to keeping your knees healthy and strong. Strength training exercises, such as squats and lunges, help to build up the muscles that support the knee joint.

This can help take some of the pressure off the knee and therefore reduce pain. In addition, exercises that improve flexibility and range of motion can also be helpful. By maintaining strong muscles and a good range of motion, you can keep your knees healthy and free from pain.

Taking breaks during extended periods of sitting or standing and performing regular knee bends can also help keep your knees healthy and prevent pain.


Look After Your Knees

As we age, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of our knees. With each passing year, the wear and tear of everyday life takes its toll, and we may not even realize the damage we’re doing until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and take care of your knees before problems arise.

With a little bit of care, you’ll have a healthy knee for many years to come. So take the time to take care of yourself and listen to your body; it will thank you in the long run!

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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