Is Microscopic Discectomy Right for You?

If you suffer from a lumbar herniated disc or sciatica, you are in a lot of pain. If conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and medication, have not worked over the course of at least three months, you may be a good candidate for a microscopic discectomy. This minimally invasive surgical procedure relieves sciatica pain, but will not relieve lower back pain per se.

Results are better for patients who do not wait for much longer than three months after diagnosis to undergo microscopic discectomy, so discuss whether microdiscectomy is right for you with your doctor.


Sciatica occurs when material from one of the discs in your lower back – the lumbar region – sticks out into your spinal canal, pinching the sciatic nerve. The resulting inflammation and swelling leads to sciatic nerve irritation and the symptoms of sciatica start. The pain usually follows a line from your lower back to your buttock, and down to your thigh and calf.

Pain from sciatica may consist of a dull ache or sharp, shooting sensations. Sometimes, part of the affected area feels numb or tingly. While painful, sciatica generally affects only one leg or one side of the body.

Microscopic Discectomy

Also known as microcompression, microdiscectomy removes the herniated disc material pressuring your nerves and causing sciatic pain. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, but patients go home the same day if they can walk. The surgeon makes a small incision and, guided by magnification, removes the herniated part of the disc impinging on the sciatic nerve. The rest of the disc is left intact. In some cases, small bits of bone protecting the nerve root are also removed.

Instant Relief

Even while recovering from the microscopic discectomy, you should remain free from sciatic leg pain. However, if numbness was an issue, you may have to deal with that for the next few weeks or months. The nerve root must completely heal before the numbness subsides.

While you should feel instant relief, it takes about six weeks to recover completely from a microscopic discectomy. Patients undergo physical therapy and receive exercises for muscle strengthening around the spine. Your doctor may advise against driving for a week or two.

Patients with primarily sedentary jobs can usually return to work within a couple of weeks. Those whose employment includes heavy lifting will have to wait longer, often the full six weeks after complete recovery.

Call for an Appointment

If you would like more information about whether you are a candidate for microscopic discectomy or other minimally invasive surgical procedures, call us at (855) 77-SPINE for an appointment.