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Knee pain from a downhill hike

Question: Knee pain from a downhill hike

16 months ago, I developed a painful knee condition while hiking down a steep mountain trail. The constant strain of the downhill pressure and the frequent shocks to my leg as I descended from one rock to the next eventually led to the pain. The pain is focused on the outside surface of my right knee joint, just to the side of, and a bit below the patella. A friend offered an ACE bandage which helped only slightly at the time. Over a few weeks it got better, but would flare up again with the slightest provocation (a little pick-up soccer, a short jog, etc). As I look forward to ski season, I worry about the next flare-up, and wonder what I can do to prevent it. What exercises and stretches will help avoid pain? Should I preemptively take ibuprofen before skiing? Is there a knee brace which is designed with this condition in mind? What is this condition called?

Any guidance is greatly appreciated.




I hope someone else does have an answer as I have exactly the same injury - and I got it the same way - a 3 hour downhill hike 3 years ago!

Going upstairs also causes pain, as though a knife is going straight through my kneecap - can anyone help please?


With regards to the pain on the outer side of the knee, I would check for IlioTibialBandSyndrome. You know the type that is attributed to a very tight TensorFasciaLata muscle. A doctor may readily diagnose accordingly, but may also propose injections of antiinflamatories. I developed the same thing after running a mountain event on a new pair of trail shoes. Running downhill is where the pain kicked in and stayed for as long as I kept running. No problem with normal walking or stair climbing in my case. Had it for the past 2 months, played doctor (in the real sense) and found some very informative sites suggesting IT stretches and TFL strengthening exercises. The suggestions worked for me as after a months heavy workout on pelvic and femoral muscles I have already regained my ability. Check under Knee Pain & ITBS on this very site. You will find an interesting presentation of ITBS by some Owen Anderson. It appealed to me as I always prefer correcting my body by exercise than by drugs+incisions.

PS I am under the impression that antiinflamatory drugs should never be taken before athletic activites.


This does sound like ilio-tibial band syndrome but there are three structures to consider: the ilio-tibial band, the tensor fasciae latae & gluteus medius muscles. These will all need stretching, seek out a good Physical Therapist to work on the muscles and stretch the band. It will take a few weeks of treatment but this regime works really well for this type of pain.

Robert Hawkins - Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
for sprains, strains & muscular pains


I have found that a knee brace can be very beneficial when going on hikes as much for the mental aspect as the physical aspect. When you know your knee is secure, you can just enjoy your hike.