Skip to content

How To Stop Knee Pain On Stairs

Knee Pain On Stairs

Are you moving less freely because of knee pain on stairs? Do your knees ache or give out while using stairs? Are your knees making annoying “crunching,” “clicking,” or “popping” sounds with stairs? Are you worried that you might need surgery or injections to fix this? Well you’re going to want to check out this video and article.

Surgery or pain pills are rarely necessary when you have knee pain on stairs

Knee pain on stairs is one of the most common complaints we get here in our specialist clinic. There’s good news, though: In most cases, knee pain can be fully resolved without pain pills, surgery, or injections. While we can’t undo the “wear and tear” in your knee, we can usually do enough to get you out of pain so you are more mobile, strong, and able to live your life.

What if my knees are “bone-on-bone”?

But Chris, my doctor says my knees are bone on bone!” It still doesn’t mean you’re going to need surgery or other risky procedures. Physical Therapy with specific exercise and hands-on care can often be enough to significantly delay (or forgo) surgery.

Most people with knee pain have notable fixable imbalances at their hips and feet. Because of these imbalances, the knee joint receives more stress than usual.

Without seeing you in person, I cannot confidently say what’s wrong. However, to give you a place to start… It’s important to understand that just because your knees hurt, doesn’t mean it’s the underlying cause of your pain.

The most common causes of knee pain on stairs

Your hips could be weak or tight. Maybe your ankles are weak or tight. You might have flat feet. Your body is a closed system, so problems with the surrounding joints greatly impact your knees. These are but a few examples of what may be contributing to your knee pain on stairs. Only a trained professional, such as a Physical Therapist, can accurately identify YOUR specific imbalance to take stress off your knees.

“But Chris, my hips or feet aren’t what hurt!” It doesn’t matter. The place that hurts or has the most wear and tear is rarely the problem. It’s almost always the surrounding areas are weak or tight.

I’ve found that most of my patients are able to delay or no longer need surgery after correcting these imbalances.

Let’s say your goal is to be able to climb 4 flights of stairs to be able to travel internationally. There are a lot of “steps” (pun intended) that must happen before you are able to do this pain free. The video in this article helps to better illustrate some of those steps.

If the pain isn’t bad enough yet to seek a tailored solution to your problem, here are a few things you could look into on your own.

What can I do at home to help with knee pain on stairs?

Correct the alignment of your knee – Make sure your knee isn’t caving in as you go up or down stairs. If you try to do this consciously, and are still unable, there may be another problem that needs to be addressed by a professional Physical Therapist.

Look at your foot and ankle – Do you have flat feet? If you’ve been told that your feet are flat, you may need some arch supports if you’ll be using more stairs than usual. There are also ways to strengthen the arches, as outlined in the video above. Also, it’s important that your ankle bends enough to allow you to descend the stairs without extra stress to your knees.

Make sure your hips are strong – Much like the ankle, the muscles around your hip help to stabilize your knee, and transfer stress up to your hip. If your hips are weak, your knees will take extra stress, and may increase pain to your knees.

Lose weight – If you are considered overweight or obese, even as little as a weight loss of 10% can have profound impacts on the inflammation in your body, as well as the stress on your knees. Working with a nutritionist or other trained professional can help to reduce stress on your knees. This may be enough to stop knee pain on stairs.

Remember, surgery is ALWAYS an option. Most surgeons will tell you that knee surgery for knees is largely a quality of life issue. If you’ve been living with knee pain for a while now, why not try these things first? You can always get surgery later. (Always listen to your surgeon, if they feel you need surgery sooner vs later.)

What if those things don’t work for me?

If you’ve tried all these, and you’re looking for a custom solution to your problem, let’s chat on the phone for 15 minutes. I’ll give you my best advice at no charge. We provide hands-on 1-on-1 Physical Therapy in Lansing, MI.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article and video are for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please always speak with your healthcare provider first before implementing any advice or exercises discussed in this article or video.

Chris S

Dr. Chris Sovey

Healthy Consumer PT

"We Help Adults 40+ Living With Pain, Stiffness, Or Loose Joints Get Healthy, Age Stronger, And Get Back To The Activities They Love, Even If Past Treatments Have Failed"


Ask About A Free 20-Minute
In-Person Chat

Ask About A Free 15-Minute
Phone Consult

Ask About Availability & Pricing