You Should Expect More from your Shoulder Specialist

Board Certification

This is a benchmark for the safe practice of medicine. Doctor Butzen has been board certified since 2015, the earliest he has been able to take this two-part examination. On the scored portion, he scored in the top quintile in his graduating class.

Fellowship Training

He completed the coveted Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship at the University of Southern California in 2013. During this fellowship, his time was spent learning advanced techniques in shoulder surgery, including advanced arthroscopic techniques and shoulder replacements. In addition, he gained experience treating other conditions of the upper extremity, from the shoulder to the finger tips.

Experience Matters

In his training, he has performed thousands of procedures of the upper extremity, many on high level athletes. He has covered sporting events at Division I and II NCAA Schools, professional baseball and professional hockey players, gaining experience treating athletes who are eager to get back to their preferred sports. Now in Durango, he has treated many professional athletes, including road cyclists, big mountain free skiers, mountain bikers, and cross country skiers.

Many times surgery is not required

Doctor Butzen is well-versed in non-operative interventions, including injection therapy, physical therapies, medical management optimization, and alternative treatment options. Many times this is all that is required to improve your shoulder symptoms, and get you back to your favorite activities. 

Experienced in advanced surgical techniques

When it comes to shoulder surgery, arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive technique, has been shown to provide superior results compared to traditional surgery. Doctor Butzen provides arthroscopic treatment of most shoulder injuries and pathology, including rotator cuff tears, labral tears, tendinopathy of the long head of the biceps tendon, recurrent shoulder dislocations, frozen shoulder and impingement syndrome. 

You deserve a surgeon who cares

Doctor Butzen has chosen to work without a physician's assistant, which means every visit for your orthopedic problem will be seen and treated by a fellowship-trained board-certified orthopedic surgeon. He truly cares about his patients, and loves to see their recovery and return to their preferred sports or work activities.

A surgeon who is also a human

Doctor Butzen is committed to being a productive member of the Durango, Colorado and Four Corners region communities. He is married and has two young sons, who he spends most of his free-time with. He is remodeling his house in Durango. He stays physically fit by participating in sports like softball, trail running, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing.  

Common Conditions:


There are many conditions that can afflict the shoulder and elbow.  Below are just a few of the possibilities. A proper diagnosis is impossible over the internet. Please click here to schedule an in person appointment with Dr. Butzen so that we can discuss your symptoms and develop a plan to get you feeling 100% again. 



Clavicle Fracture

The clavicle (collarbone) acts as a strut between the shoulder and the front of the chest wall and maintains a functional relationship between the two. A fracture of the clavicle occurs commonly with a fall onto outside of the shoulder. These frequently can be treated without surgery. When there is significant shortening of the bone, displacement, or large deformity, surgery can correct this and allow for more predictable results and can lead to improved shoulder function following healing.

Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that cross the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder that helps keep the joint in place. The rotator cuff maintains stability of the shoulder joint and helps you to raise and rotate your arm. Rotator cuff tears can cause pain, weakness, or both. If the initial treatment with rest, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy fail, surgery may be indicated.

Surgery for a rotator cuff tear typically involves repairing the tendon back to the tendon’s “footprint”, usually with bone anchors. There have been significant improvements in rotator cuff tear treatment with the advent of advanced shoulder arthroscopy, which has led to decreased pain, improved range of motion, and smaller scars.

Doctor Butzen has been performing all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs since 2009, and this is his standard technique for the majority of these tears, resorting to a mini-open procedure for more complex tear types.

Labral (SLAP) Tear

The labrum is the lip-like soft tissue structure that surrounds the bony socket of the shoulder. Also attached to the socket, with the labrum, is one of the two biceps tendons. The labrum can become detached or injured from a traumatic event (e.g. dislocation), or over time with abnormal shoulder motion (e.g. micro-trauma in throwing athletes). Typically, treatment begins with a period of rest, anti-inflammatories, and a comprehensive physical therapy program.

Surgery may be indicated if the symptoms fail to improve with conservative management, for more predictable results, or for certain types of labral tears. Like rotator cuff tears, there have been significant improvements in stiffness and pain with arthroscopic treatment, while maintaining quality and strength of the repair.

Shoulder Impingement

Impingement syndrome is a common disorder of the shoulder that refers to an improper alignment of the bones and tissues in the upper arm. If the rotator cuff becomes inflamed from overuse or there is a bone deformity or spur on the end of the shoulder blade, then the space between the humeral head and tip of the shoulder blade is narrowed, causing the rotator cuff and its fluid-filled bursa to be squeezed or pinched. This impingement of the tendon causes irritation and pain to the rotator cuff when the shoulder is raised. Treatment of impingement syndrome begins with conservative options like rest, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Frequently, a cortisone injection is effective to improve symptoms. Rarely, surgery is indicated for symptoms that fail to improve.

Frozen Shoulder 

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a condition in which the tissues around the shoulder joint stiffen, scar tissue forms, and shoulder movements become limited and painful. It can develop when you stop using the joint normally because of pain, other injury, or a chronic health condition, such as diabetes. Any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you do not work to maintain its full range of motion.

Shoulder arthritis

Arthritis of the shoulder results in a delayed manner from trauma, or due to wear and tear. The joint surface deteriorates and is no longer a smooth, shock-absorbing surface. This leads to pain and stiffness in the shoulder, with decreased function. Initial treatment of shoulder arthritis is similar to other arthritis treatments, and includes physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and injections.

Total shoulder replacement is the definitive treatment for shoulder arthritis, which replaces the surfaces of the joint, with a metallic humeral head (ball) replacement, and a plastic gleaned (socket) replacement.

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

A reverse total shoulder replacement is effective for arthritis of the shoulder due to a massive, irreparable rotator cuff tear. It is also performed occasionally for a severe fracture of the upper part of the humerus (fracture of the ball of the shoulder). 

Shoulder Dislocation

A shoulder dislocation (shoulder instability) occurs when the upper end of the arm bone pops out of the shoulder joint. This injury may be caused by a direct blow to the shoulder, a fall on an outstretched hand or arm, or an exaggerated overhead throwing motion. Several injuries to the shoulder can occur during a dislocation, including a fracture, rotator cuff tear, labral tear, and ligament injury. There is also an increased risk for further dislocations, and so careful evaluation is necessary to identify and treat these injuries. Frequently, surgery is recommended to treat these injuries, due to the increased risk for further instability.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is inflammation of the tendon that connects the muscles of the forearm, wrist, and hand to the upper arm at the elbow. The tendon on the bony outside (lateral) part of the elbow (the epicondyle) is most often irritated by overuse during physical activity. These injuries can be difficult to treat, as it is difficult to rest this area of the arm. Initial treatment frequently includes rest, bracing, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections. Rarely, surgery is necessary for difficult cases of lateral epicondylitis.