It was a year ago today that I had my then crooked, rotated spine straightened. I had scoliosis my whole life and until 5 years ago, I suffered minimal complications. The pain and diminished funtionality progressed until early 2005 when the wheels really came off for me. As a result of severe degenerative disk disease at L1/L2, I had horrific back pain due to a badly compressed spinal nerve. Also, the curvature was causing extreme soft tissue pain throughout my back.
Being one that believes a strong spirit can fix just about anything, I tried just about everything - physical therapy, massage, chiroproactic adjustments, muscular activation technique (MAT) therapy, vigorous exercise and yoga. The one thing I refused to succumb to was prescription pain killers (never used them during that time) and OTC medications didn't help at all. My chiropractor at the time finally sent me to see a surgeon who he knew and trusted. After the exam and MRI, this very nice guy (is that usual for a neurosurgeon? :'}) explained that he could straighten my spine. I had no idea that this was even an option for adults, but my condition was so bad I decided to go for it.
On December 19th, I had a 3-level spinal fusion which means that 4 vertabrae are fused together to form one single segement. My fusion was from T12 to L3, which is roughly from waistband to, uh, bra-line (the gents will have to use their imaginations as to where that is). A multi-level fusion is considered a very major undertaking, but was necessary in my case to actually straigthen and rotate my spine back in place.
My recovery was amazingly short - I was back to work on January 11th, taking private yoga sessions the following week and doing light cardio in the gym during that same time period. My strength returned very quickly and I am now back to all my usual activities - golf, cycling, weight lifting, yoga (full back-bends!), hiking, snowshoeing and poker. I was really worried about that last one.
Having back surgery requires serious consideration and I would highly recommend that you consider all options prior to such a drastic step and try your best to avoid it through alternative therapies. I was fortunate enough to have had a great surgeon, high-end health care at a reknowned medical center, excellent support at home and I happen to be a reasonably strong, fit individual. Thus, I have not a single regret and am pain-free and much more mobile today that I was a year ago.