Knee pain when walking down stairs: What’s causing it?

Knee Pain

You walk out of your second-floor office and head toward the elevator. “Out of Order,” the sign on the elevator doors reads. You wince as you realize you’ll have to face the knee pain you feel when walking down stairs. If this scenario sounds familiar, you may be wondering what could possibly be causing this symptom. The most likely answer is that you have a knee condition called chondromalacia. 

What is chondromalacia?

Chondromalacia may not be something you’ve heard of, but it’s the most likely cause of your knee pain when walking down stairs. This condition is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), and it happens when the cartilage under the kneecap is worn away. This causes the kneecap to rub against the upper or lower leg bones, and this rubbing is the most likely to cause pain when your knee bends more deeply than normal. Like when you’re going down stairs. 

What causes this condition?

Now that you know what issue is most likely causing your knee pain when walking down stairs, you may want to know how it developed in the first place. There are many factors that can lead to chondromalacia. For example, the natural wear and tear on knee cartilage over time can cause it, and this is typically called osteoarthritis. 

People who do lots of repetitive knee movements are also at greater risk of developing chondromalacia. Running is the type of repetitive movement that can cause this condition, and this is why another common name for this issue is runner’s knee. Weak thigh and calf muscles, misaligned kneecaps and knee injuries could also be the reason you’re dealing with this condition. 

What are the symptoms of chondromalacia?

Pain in and around the knee is the most noticeable symptom of runner’s knee. Knee pain is most common when walking down stairs, but it can be felt when you’re walking up stairs as well. This condition can also lead to pain when you’re doing intense leg activities. Keeping your knee in one position for a long time, such as on a long car ride, can also cause you to feel runner’s knee pain. The other common symptom of chondromalacia is a crackling sound when you bend your knee. 

Holland Physical Therapy can help treat your runner’s knee

At Holland Physical Therapy, we don’t want you to keep feeling knee pain when walking down the stairs. That’s why we encourage you to come see us for help with your runner’s knee. We’ll do a one-on-one screening to determine what underlying issue is causing this condition, and then, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan for you, which may include techniques like: 

Are you ready to walk down stairs without feeling pain? Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.