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Has anoyone had a successful discectomy on a small herniation?

I am scheduled to have a discectomy this Thursday by a surgeon I trust. However, I went for a second opinion today (it had more to do with insurance coverage than really wanting the opinion) and he made me a bit paranoid. Very very long story short -- I have suffered from terrible sciatica on my left side while sitting for over two years. I've seen countless doctors, physical and alternative therapists, tried meds, and 5 different injections and nothing worked. The original EMG showed the problem starts at L5 S1, which is where I have a small but noticeable herniation that is covering part of the nerve root. So the second opinion doctor today wanted to send me for yet another injection, this one straight into the nerve root because he didn't think my herniation was big enough to cause a problem. He went on to tell me how some people have HUGE ones and this one isn't very big at all. He said he could do a discectomy, but he wouldn't be able to say what he usually says, which is in 95% of the cases, it helps the sciatica. I asked him what else it could be and he had no answers. I also have atrophy in my left glute and I asked him about that and he agreed it's probably a compressed nerve root causing it. So I left the appointment feeling a bit more nervous than I had been that I am making the right decision. But the other side of the argument is, who really cares what the size is if it's pressing on a nerve? There area plenty of people with huge herniations who don't even know they have them because they are not pressing on nerves. I am not sure why the size would matter (to quote my husband. Just kidding. I could not resist.) Has anyone had a smaller herniation corrected and did you find relief? Anyone who would like to chime in, I'd love your thoughts.


  • I had a microdiscectomy nearly 8 weeks ago. Although I had a large herniation. My surgeon explained to me that the size doesnt matter as you correctly pointed out. If you experience symptoms from your herniated disc then do what you need to do to be pain free. You just need to be sure the reason that you are experiencing sciatica is due to the small herniation. I lived with it for 8 months with pain constantly at a 5. Would jump to a 9-10 whenever I needed to walk or stand. I did the round of injections and PT but they were no help. Woke up from surgery with zero pain. Slight nerve twinges here and there but that is normal. Back to normal life again. Best of luck.
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