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Hips Don't Lie: Replacements on the Rise As Busy Boomers Age

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Hip replacements aren't just for the elderly anymore.

A growing number of baby boomers and 40-somethings are getting the procedure, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of total hip replacements tripled for the 55-64 age group from 2000 to 2010, while the procedures increased 205 percent — from 138,000 to nearly 311,000 - for those aged 45-54, according to the CDC report.

The surge reflects the large boomer population as well as an increased bid to maintain active lifestyles as Americans age, doctors say.

See Anne Thompson's full report on NBC's Nightly News at 6:30 p.m. ET Monday

“We have known for a long time ... that we are going to be doing many more hip replacements in the United States and the big push for that is that patients, whether they are older or younger, are less tolerant of accepting a sedentary or a (less) active lifestyle than maybe they have been in the past,” said Dr. Robert Molloy, an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic.

“A lot of it is a result of the aging population and a result of patients who maybe 20 or 25 years ago didn't have the confidence that they would be able to get back to the active lifestyle that they can achieve now with the implants that we have today,” he later added.

Modern implants have a much longer life span than those in the past because of technological improvements. Molloy said he tells patients there is a 90 percent the change the device they receive will last some 20 years.

“The weakest link was always where the new hip ball met the new hip socket,” he said, adding that the implants are today built with better plastic than that used in the past. “That really has extended what we think the longevity of these implants is going to be.”

The average cost for total hip replacement is about $30,000, but prices can vary widely, from $11,000 to nearly $74,000. The recovery period has shortened for all age groups, with the 45-54 age group spending an average of three days in the hospital, while those aged 75 remained hospitalized the longest at more than four days, according to the CDC.

“it is not uncommon that we see patients come back to see us even at 3 weeks post-op with very little pain and able to walk and do many activities of daily living even without assisted devices like canes or walkers,” Molloy said.

IN-DEPTH

— with Miranda Leitsinger

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