When conservative care doesn't work, then surgery to remove the disc called a discectomy may be needed. The last 10 years has seen a trend away from discectomy combined with a laminectomy (removal of bone) and fusion. Now a simple discectomy is done to avoid further problems from the spinal surgery.
Studies report there's still a 10 to 40 per cent rate of complications after a simple discectomy. Failure to correct the problem could be caused by a variety of factors. Some are patient-caused, while others are surgeon-derived. Work and legal status and psychologic state of the patient, and surgical skill and technique on the part of the surgeon are part of this equation.
Your son's surgeon has probably advised him to have a simple discectomy based on the results of X-rays and MRIs. The doctor also takes into consideration the person's general health, overall attitude, and work situation. His chances of getting back to work and daily life are better with the less invasive surgery.