I am sure you misunderstood what transpired with your friend. A “steel rod in the spine” generally means a fusion was performed (the rods are titanium) as this hardware is the scaffolding for a fusion. Fusions work really well in the properly selected and educated patients. Fusions are not perfect but many times are much better than the deformity and instability that preceded them.
I cannot tell you what would work for your husband but I would be happy to give him an opinion.