I had what my surgeon described as a 'large' L5/S1 herniation.
Pain with walking, pain with stretching, pain down the leg....whole nine yards.
I seriously considered microdiscectomy. Im young, active, and seemed to be a good candidate. I did a great deal of research, and the numbers seemed to be on my side regarding reherniation etc, but I didnt want to have to constantly worry about it on the mats. I decided to try traction therapy with a PT as a last ditch effort, and it literally changed my life. I underwent roughly five/six 15 minute treatments that rendered me completely asymptomatic. I have had absolutely no pain whatsoever in the 9 months since treatment, and have been more active than ever.
While I concede that this is probably an unusual case, I am so grateful that I decided to try traction first. I know that it is likely that I will have to deal with problems in the future, but it feels great to have forgotten about my back problems completely.