A SWIMMER who faced the prospect of painful surgery to cure a back problem is back in the pool just four weeks after starting her treatment.

Amy Hannaway would sometimes go swimming twice a day, saying being in the water was her life and only real passion.

But the 20-year-old from Prestwood was forced to stop her training after being diagnosed with scoliosis - a painful back condition caused by an irregular curvature of the spine that can cause death if left untreated.

The Nottingham University student first felt discomfort after a swimming session, but the pain escalated after she tried to ignore it.

She said: "The pain that I experienced was so powerful and relentless, it was horrible. The scariest part of it was I am used to training that many times in a day, and I have never witnessed that sort of outburst of pain in the past. I had no idea why it happened and that was terrifying."

Miss Hannaway was told her only options were large doses of painkillers or painful spine fusion surgery, which would have meant having two metal rods inserted into her back.

That doesn't guarantee a cure for the condition however and she said: "I was devastated by the information I was given at the end of my appointment. A few days ago I had been enjoying university and training really hard in the pool, and the next thing I know, I am being told that my scoliosis has progressed and that I am now faced with the possibility of a dangerous spinal fusion operation."

After being diagnosed with scoliosis - a condition that affects four per cent of the population - Miss Hannaway went straight to the university library to research other methods of treatment.

She found the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in an internet search - and after a four week course of treatment at the London clinic that improved her posture and reduced the pain levels, she was back swimming again.

She said: "When I saw my before and after treatment photographs I nearly cried.  To have seen how bad my back looked and to remember the pain that I was feeling and then to compare that to how I was after was unbelievable."