It is performed for a herniated disc, a microdiscectomy relieves the pressure on a spinal nerve root by removing the material causing the pain. The disc herniation may occur directly after back surgery or many years later, although they are most common in the first three months after surgery. If the disc does herniate again, a revision microdiscectomy will generally be just as successful as the first operation. However, after a recurrence, the patient is at a higher risk of further recurrences.
A microdiscectomy (also called a microdecompression) is usually more effective for relieving leg pain (also known as radiculopathy, or sciatica) than lower back pain. For leg pain, patients will normally feel pain relief almost immediately after a microdiscectomy. They will usually go home from the surgery with significant pain relief. For numbness, weakness, or other neurological symptoms in the leg and foot, it may take weeks or months for the nerve root to fully heal and any numbness or weakness to subside.