'My shoulder has become very stiff and painful and hurts with any sudden movements and at night time. I saw my GP who thinks it might be a frozen shoulder but I have also heard of a thing called ‘impingement’. What is the difference?'
Problems like these of the shoulder are very common and can occur in as much as 14% of the population. Differentiating between the two problems is also very difficult because there has not been an agreed set of symptoms that a person with either problem might present with and there is a lot of overlap between the two.
Typically a frozen shoulder has a restriction to turning the forearm away from the body when somebody else is trying to move it for you. This is called a capsular pattern of restriction. Other conditions such as arthritis may also cause this restriction which can usually be ruled out by having an X-ray done. A frozen shoulder is also usually quite painful, particularly with any sudden movements and in the early stages, also at night time. Often no specific cause for the start of a frozen shoulder can be identified but they are more common in people who have diabetes, are over 50 years old and are female. It may follow after a small trauma or may just develop on its own. The pain is also usually deep inside the shoulder and also has a lot of stiffness.