I had a discectomy in 2003 and it was the best thing I ever did.
2 things with surgeries though:
1. Find the best surgeon you can and do NOT let anyone else work on you. I have had 4 major surgeries and my mom ran medical practices for years including several surgery groups. Surgeons are NOT equal. Always, always get the right guy to cut you. And when you find the guy, ask competitors who they would ask to do surgery on them if they were in your position and see if his name comes up consistently.
2. Weigh the risks independently of one opinion. Call your insurance company and ask to talk to a nurse practitioner about your condition. They will give you a reasonable assessment of the risks on doing it versus not doing it. Then, get the numbers of Doctors outside your area from her and get a consult from someone who is NOT going to be a candidate to do the surgery. If they are not, they will usually tell you the truth. Make sure you talk to at least 2 and hopefully 3 other doctors.
The thing about surgery is this. If someone screws up the procedure, there is NO gaurantee they or someone much better can fix their mistake. The whole reason you get a 50-50 assessment on this procedure is that likely the 50 against had a poor surgeon and created more problems than they should have. Generally, back surgery is not so invasive unless they have to fuze disks or the like. Discectomy is a highly effective surgery with a much higher success rate than 50-50 in the hands of a very competent surgeon.