If achy knees have you avoiding the stairs, taking the elevator might not be the cure-all: Pain while climbing up steps could actually be an early sign of knee osteoarthritis (OA) , finds new research from the University of Leeds.
In the study, participants answered annual questionnaires that asked whether they felt knee pain during different everyday activities, and if so, how severe it was. For those who started the study pain-free, climbing steps tended to be the first source of knee discomfort, which researchers interpreted as a possible early warning sign of knee OA.
That’s most likely because step-climbing puts more stress on the knee joint than walking alone, says study coauthor Philip Conaghan, Ph.D. When that kind of pressure leaves you hurting, it could be a sign that other, gentler activities will end up posing a problem for your knees later on.
Help Prevent Arthritis
“The important thing to do is modify training or activities to reduce impact, like less running and more swimming or bicycling,” Conaghan says.
If your symptoms persist, see a physical therapist. He or she can help you find ways to take more pressure off your joints, like quad-strengthening exercises. You’ll also probably be advised to drop some pounds if you’re overweight.
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