Lumbar microdiscectomy is needed when disabling sciatic pain from a ruptured lumbar disc has gone on for too long, usually a few weeks or more. The procedure entails a full anaesthetic, a small incision and a day or two in hospital.
The first step of surgery is to use a mobile X-ray machine to find the correct spinal level and then make a short incision in the back. An operating microscope is used to give a clear view of the involved nerve and gently remove the disc fragment from underneath it. Care is taken to make sure that there is no bleeding and the wound is sutured closed. Local anaesthetic is injected into the wound during closure to help with pain relief. This process usually takes from half to one hour.
The sciatic pain is often relieved straight away, but in some cases, may persist after surgery for a while. Sometimes numbness in the area of the previous pain is noticeable afterwards but will also usually fade with time. Walking is encouraged soon after surgery, at the latest by the next day. People often go home within a day or two of surgery.