Mr Shaun Stevely - microdiscectomy - spinal surgery for disc prolapse

Shaun Stevely, 44, from Hornchurch in Essex had spine surgery for a prolapsed disc at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood, Essex in 2010.

"The operation gave me my life back"
Shaun Stevely, Hornchurch

Shaun, who works for a large rail company in London,  had suffered with sciatic pain for several years but had always kept active with regular gym visits and coaching his local under 10’s and under 15’s football teams. When he would get pain he would take anti-inflammatory drugs that initially had worked well. However, in May 2010 things got much worse, Shaun explains more:

“One day I had terrible pain down my buttock and leg and I literally couldn’t move. I did everything I could from taking the anti-inflammatory tablets and pain killers to physiotherapy and acupuncture but nothing worked any more and it started to impact on my life.”

Shaun was unable to coach his football teams properly and he was taking increasing amounts of time off of work. “It got to the point in the September of last year that I was laid up for a week, curled up into a ball and my foot went blue where I just couldn’t move it and get circulation to it. I was in tears and felt miserable with all the pain. At that point we called an ambulance but I was not a priority case. It became a cycle of pain, pain relief and more pain because the cause was not being treated.”

Eventually Shaun decided to use his medical insurance to pay for a private consultation. His friend, also a GP, provided names of possible consultant neurosurgeons and Shaun went online to research. He continues: “I went onto the Spire Hartswood Hospital website and looked up consultant neurosurgeon Mr Karoly M David, one of the names given to me. I knew it would ultimately be my decision to choose who I went to, so I wanted to know more about the consultants. I read Mr David’s consultant profile and also a case study of one of his previous patients and I knew he had the credentials I was looking for.”

Shaun went for his consultation with Mr David at the end of September and was impressed with his visit: “ He showed me a model of a back and explained what was happening to mine. He showed me pictures and talked me through my options. Although I am relatively young for the surgery option, Mr David decided it was appropriate considering that I had tried alternatives that had repeatedly failed to cure the problem.

“So I decided to go for surgery. It wasn’t frightening because I had enough time to ask questions and Mr David was very honest about the risks involved.  I felt confident in his ability to help me and I realised that I felt relieved that I would finally get the cause treated rather than just the symptoms.”

Mr David performed a microdiscectomy on Shaun to relieve the pain caused in his leg and buttock by the herniated lumbar disc in his spine. Shaun stayed in hospital for three nights and received physiotherapy on the ward and for a few weeks after surgery. “The physio really helped me understand how to look after my back. Everyone looked after me. I left the hospital after surgery with painkillers but didn’t take any and have not needed to since the operation which is now over four months ago.

“The operation gave me my life back. I’m back at the gym and coaching the football team and have even lost a stone in weight because I’m active again. My advice to others would be don’t wait. You know your own body. Tablets treat the symptoms but if you have pain anywhere you need to find out what is causing it and get it treated. I have my quality of life back.”

The surgeon's view - comments from Mr Karoly M David

Lumbar microdiscectomy has about 80-90 % success rate in improving sciatica caused by a disc prolapse. In most of the cases this operation is a good option to substantially relieve radiating leg pain and get the patient back to near normality quicker (usually within 2-4 weeks). The other option is continuing non-surgical management eg physiotherapy, painkillers, anti-inflammatory and pain injections. It is up to the patient’s informed decision which treatment is chosen. Certainly microdiscectomy is an option after about six weeks of non-surgical treatment that does not result in improvement.

Although this procedure is probably the commonest one preformed by a spinal neurosurgeon it has its small risks and potential complications that are discussed with patients in detail before a decision is made by the patient regarding surgery.

Mr Stevely is one of the many patients who benefited greatly from this procedure.

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Share your experiences

Shaun Stevely is willing to talk to other Spire Hartswood patients who are considering spinal surgery for a disc prolapse. This can be arranged by calling the Treatment Enquiry line on 01277 266 761 or if you wish to share your experience of Spire Hartswood Hospital simply email us at

Mr Karoly M David

Mr Karoly M David, consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital performed Shaun's surgery.

Shaun Stevely

Back surgery

Read more about back surgery at Spire Hartswood Hospital

Fast facts

  • The sciatic nerve (also known as the ischiadic nerve) is a large nerve fibre that begins in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the leg.
  • Microdiscectomy or microdecompression spine surgery involves removing a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. It is typically performed for a herniated lumbar disc to treat leg pain.

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)