How it's treated: Your doctor may suggest that you rest your shoulder for a few days, then begin rotator cuff stretching and mobility exercises. Avoid lifting anything above shoulder level until the injury heals. An anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injection may help bring down swelling and reduce pain.
If the pain and weakness do not improve, you might need more formal physical therapy or surgery. The type of surgery done depends on the size, type, and location of the tear. It can take several weeks or even months for a rotator cuff injury to heal.
How to prevent it: Exercise your rotator cuff muscles to keep them strong and improve your range of motion. Be careful when you play sports like golf and tennis that use the same repetitive motions. Switch up your game once in a while. And stop whenever you feel pain.
AC Joint Injury
What it is: The AC (acromioclavicular) joint is located where the uppermost part of your shoulder blade -- a structure called the acromion -- meets your collarbone. When ligaments connecting the acromion and collarbone get torn, you've got a separated shoulder.
How it can get injured: Getting hit hard in the shoulder or falling on an outstretched hand can cause a separated shoulder.
What you'll feel: Pain in your shoulder. You might also see a bump on top of the shoulder where it's separated.
How it's treated: You will need to see your doctor if you suspect you have an AC joint injury. You will likely need to wear a sling to keep your shoulder still. Ice the area for about 20-30 minutes every couple of hours to reduce swelling. Take acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen to help with the pain.
How to prevent it: Do range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. Gradually increase the weight and number of reps to strengthen your shoulder.
What it is: A dislocated shoulder happens when the top of the upper arm bone (the ball) slips out of its socket. The ball can slip forward, backward, or downward. Before you fully dislocate it, the shoulder might feel like it's starting to go out of place. That's called instability. When the shoulder slips only partway out of the socket, it's a subluxation.