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What Causes Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs?

what are the causes of knee pain whwn climbing the stairs

What Causes Knee Pain When Climbing Stairs?

Do you experience intense pain in your knees when climbing stairs? If your answer is a yes, then it could be due to arthritis and chondromalacia patella. 

Knee pain when walking up stairs is common in older people. However, you can reduce the pain if it is caused by arthritis and chondromalacia patella. Let us discuss their symptoms and causes in detail.

 Chondromalacia Patella

When you bend your knees, the patella present at the back of your knee cap slides up and down. Chondromalacia patella happens due to the breakage of cartilage tissue at the back of your knee cap. The smooth, slippery cartilage tissue rupture due to increased friction and leads to an aching and sore joint. In addition, it causes knee pain during stair climbing.

Symptoms Of Chondromalacia Patella

You may experience pain at the back of your knee cap. The consistent pain may lead to soreness in the patella and the adjoining regions. Moreover, you may experience intense knee pain going up stairs, walking, squatting, running, and standing for a longer duration.

Causes And Risk Factors

If you are overweight, the chances of chondromalacia patella increase as excess weights put extra pressure on your knee joints. Moreover, if you have suffered previous knee injuries, you may develop chondromalacia patella. Sportspersons and people who are involved in activities like running and biking are more susceptible to this condition. These activities cause rubbing and friction in the knee area that damages cartilage, leading to pain in the knee joint while climbing stairs.


When your knee cartilage breaks down, it reduces the space in your knee bones. The reduced area causes friction and damages the knee joint. The continuous knee damage can lead to arthritis, and your knee hurts going up stairs. Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis form and can be a significant cause of knee pain while climbing stairs.

Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is common in middle and old aged people and causes swelling and stiffness in your knees. The symptoms of arthritis and chondromalacia patella are almost similar, and both cause difficulty in your knee movements. Osteoarthritis makes knee bending challenging, and you feel knee pain when climbing stairs but not walking. Moreover, you may take time to find balance and stand up properly after sitting down for a long time. You may face difficulty in taking a few steps after getting out of your bed in the morning.

Causes And Risk Factors

Like chondromalacia patella, your excess weight may lead to arthritis. In addition, if you are a sportsperson, you are at a high risk of developing arthritis. Continuous physical activities may lead to overuse and tearing of knee tissues and cause knee and joint pain. In addition, it causes extreme knee pain while climbing steps. Your genes are also responsible for your arthritis. If your family members had arthritis, you might develop it at the middle or later stages of your life. 

Diagnosis Of Chondromalacia Patella And Arthritis

X-ray is the most well-known technique to diagnose arthritis. It helps your doctor find the reason for knee pain while climbing stairs. X-ray images make your doctor see the space between your bones and the knee joints, making the diagnosis better. It also helps them assess your bone condition and look for bone damages. If your knee pain is caused by rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, your doctor may ask for a blood draw to complete your diagnosis.

In chondromalacia patella, X-ray does not provide sufficient evidence to prove its existence. Therefore, you need to undergo an MRI for a better diagnosis as it gives a better look at your ruptured knee cartilage. In addition, you must talk about your symptoms with your doctor. It will help them diagnose your situation thoroughly. If you experience outer knee pain when climbing stairs only, make sure to tell them.

Your doctor may prescribe medicines to relieve pain and swelling. However, if the drugs do not show any results, you may need knee replacement surgery. You may contact Germanten Hospitals for the successful knee replacement. If you think about ‘why does my knee hurt when I walk up stairs?’ The answer lies in your cartilage and knee diagnosis. 


Germanten Hospital has been one of India’s leading facilities for various medical treatments. Under insightful leadership, we have acquired excellence when it comes to treatments in neurology, plastic or cosmetic surgery, orthopaedics and reconstructive surgery. 

Dr. Mir Jawad Zar Khan has led our hospital to the forefront of the medical industry. He has experience of 20 years in orthopaedics. His alma mater is Osmania University, where Dr. Khan achieved a gold medal for his excellence in education. He then completed advanced training in the USA and Germany. 

Dr. Mir Jawad Zar  khan was awarded the “Best Doctor” by Shri Roshaiah Garu, the Former Gov. of Tamil Nadu and former CM of Andhra Pradesh. He was also felicitated with the Vaida Ratna Award in 2019 by Shri Etala Rajendra, the honourable health minister of Telangana. In addition to that, Germanten Hospital also received an award of “Best Orthopaedic Hospital In South India” from the Economic Times Group in 2021. 

We have gained access to state-of-the-art medical technology and the latest advanced equipment, which has proven to be quite beneficial for our patients.