Avatar universal

One muscle won't get stronger

I'll try to be brief, please bear with me.

I have chronic back pain and foot pain. I went to the doctor and then to physical therapy. The PT identified a weak hip muscle (I think it's a portion of the glute medius but it could be the glute max) and gave me exercises to strengthen it and it's made a big difference.

Here's the problem - I've been working on it for over three years and the muscle has only improved a certain amount. Walking is less painful than it was but progress is glacially slow. This muscle is easily fatigued and slow to recover. And it doesn't seem to respond well to exercise. I have to be careful not to walk too far or lift weights too much because fatigue accumulates over time and the muscle sort of gets soft and I lose my connection to it. Then my back pain and foot pain gets worse to the point where standing or walking become quite painful. It really affects my quality of life. And the only thing that seems to help is to do nothing for a week or two to let it rest and then try to 'find' it again.

I suppose that's understandable for a weak muscle but it's been over three years! How long should it take for a muscle to gain a normal level of strength and endurance? I'm starting to think there's something deeper that's wrong with it but I don't know what can be done or where to go.

Has anyone else experienced something like this or know what might be happening? Is there a medical pro who's best able to understand this kind of problem?

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363281 tn?1590104173
Hello~I would definitely see a chiropractor for this issue. You no doubt have some impinged or misplaced vertebrae in the mid to lower back region. The chiropractor will take some x-rays, study them and then go over the results with you; after a few treatments you should be on the road to recovery and the exercises, etc that the physio has given you should then help.
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973741 tn?1342342773
Hi.  So, you don't describe anything like sciatica or an impinged nerves as if you had that, you'd have pain but also almost always intermittent or constant tinging or numbness.  

Here's an overview  https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/hip-pain-causes-and-treatment#1.  

Have you tried any type of Nsaid for your pain.  These are OTC products or they do make prescription strengths you get from your doctor (they give you a script for the pharmacy).   You'd probably want to clear taking ibuprofen or another nsaid as a safe practice.  It would be a good test if something else was involved like arthritis or tendonitis.

I do find it curious that it is just on one side.  Is that what you are saying?  Normally weak muscles would be on both sides (and absolutely, weak glutes can lead to hip pain).  Do you do kick backs and/or bridges to help with the muscles?

I also read an article on TIGHT hip muscles causing issues walking.  Do you do plenty of stretching?
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Avatar universal
There's no symptoms of sciatica. After two weeks of almost complete rest I'm starting to feel better again.

It's definitely one sided. When I stand up straight I can feel with my fingers that the muscle on the left side is active and the muscle on the right side is soft. When I'm well rested it's more even.

The problem is that fatigue builds up over several days and I kind of "lose" that muscle. I'm always trying to  find a balance between working it enough to get a training effect without tiring it out and losing it again. Which is understandable for a while but it's been a few years and I'm starting to wonder if that muscle ever will get stronger.

It's been frustrating trying to build strength in my legs because that one weak link limits what I'm able to do and how hard I can work the rest of my leg muscles.
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