Microdiscectomy for Sciatica

Your doctor may have recommended you see a neurosurgeon for surgical treatment of your sciatica. Microdiscectomy is considered a reliable surgery for relief from the symptoms of sciatica. The surgical procedure involves the removal of a small part of a vertebral disc that may be compressing a nerve root.

What is Sciatica

Sciatica is a common condition of pain, experienced by as many as 40% of adults during the course of their lifetimes. Sciatica may be caused by a herniated lumbar disc pressing on one of the nerve roots which contribute to the sciatic nerve, which runs into the back of both legs.


The most common symptom of sciatica is pain that begins in the hip area but can extend down one leg. The pain may become worse when the nerve is under stress, such as during a sneeze or when sitting. Symptoms tend to appear suddenly and can last from a few days to a few weeks. An important point is that sciatica can sometimes be mistaken for regular back pain. An easy way to tell them apart is that sciatica usually extends down the legs, whereas regular back pain usually does not.


There are numerous causes of sciatica. The most common of these is a herniated disc in the lumbar region of the lower spine. As we age, our discs become weaker and may even become misshapen. When this happens, they can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Other causes include pressure on the spine from pregnancy, spinal stenosis, spinal tumors, sacroiliitis, piriformis syndrome, or injury.  


A doctor can diagnose sciatica in different ways. First, you may be asked to perform a few specific leg or torso movements to help determine if it truly is your sciatic nerve that is affected. To confirm a diagnosis of a lumbar herniated disc as the root cause of your sciatica, an MRI is performed. When you have your first visit with a neurosurgeon, you will need to bring your MRI with you for the doctor to review. Your doctor will determine if surgery is your best course of treatment. Generally, surgery should be the last resort.


Microdiscectomy is considered a reliable surgery for relief from the symptoms of sciatica. Patients often experience pain relief immediately following a microdiscectomy. However, if other neurological symptoms such as numbness in the leg or foot are present, it could take longer for the nerve root to heal.  

Remember to take your MRI scans with you when you go for your visit with the neurosurgeon. If it is determined that you have a herniated lumbar disc pressing on your sciatic nerve, microdiscectomy may be the recommended procedure.

If you are looking for a neurosurgeon in the Hudson Valley region of New York State, click the link to learn more about the board-certified, award-winning neurosurgeons of Hudson Valley Brain & Spine Surgery.