Oh, old European cities. I love you. But I hate your stairs. SO MANY STAIRS.
Why do I hate stairs? They hurt my knees. It’s seriously painful even on days when I’m walking pain free. Down is way worse than up. Handrails help. I’m now a person who notices when they’re there and when they’re at the right height. I also sometimes worry that the stairs are making my knees worse.
So I turned to the Internet with my question. Dr. Google, do stairs simply hurt my arthritic knees or do they make things worse? Here’s a good a survey of the relevant literature.
“Stair climbing increases loads on the knee joints. And if we take into consideration the mechanical factor for appearing and progression of degenerative joint disease, it is clear that damage to joint cartilage increases with stair climbing. So reduced loads are beneficial for knee arthrosis.”
“Combination of stairs and weight or better loading and repetition of it is discussed as having some effect of knee joint degeneration. It is calculated that when someone is walking on plain ground he puts about 5 times the body weight or load in every step into the joint. When stairs are used or walking up or down hill the person is loading the knee up to 7 or 10 times the body weight or load according to the speed used. So repetition (circle of loading) – weight (and load) – and inclination of the ground has possibly effect of degenerative knee disease”
“The reasons why patients are advised to avoid them when OA shows up is that stairs are stress raisers, especially descending them. The point is that OA knees regardless the severity, are often unstable and in these conditions stairs may induce shear stresses on the cartilage and speed up the degenerative process. “
So I guess I should try to avoid them. I raised the issue at the knee surgery clinic on Monday when I was there for my regular appointment. Their message was clear. “You need to modify your activity. Avoid stairs when you can.”
See you on the escalator/in the elevator!
Though in these old cities there isn’t much choice.