I should have had surgery six months ago for a herniated disc that's pressing on my sciatic nerve. Now the symptoms are much worse. Is it too late to have the disc removed now?
Many studies confirm the fact that discectomy (surgical removal of a herniated disc) has a large window of opportunity. Patients can wait several months and still get good results from the operation.

Long-term studies show that in the end (say four to 10 years later), patient outcomes aren't much different between surgical and nonsurgical care. This means if you don't have that disc removed, your results years down the road won't be any worse than if you do have the discectomy.

The real difference occurs in the short-term results. Your chances for pain relief sooner than later is better with surgery compared with conservative (nonoperative) care.

People who have surgery to remove part or all of the disc perceive greater improvement compared to patients treated without surgery. But at the end of the first year, the benefits are no longer so obvious between those who do and those who do not have surgery.

If immediate relief of painful symptoms would improve your quality of life and function, then it may be worth the risk of surgery for you. Be prepared though: not everyone gets pain relief right away. It could take a few weeks to months after the operation before your symptoms gradually go away.