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The results of various surgical treatments for lumbar disc herniation in laborers and athletes were compared on the basis of the relative success of return to work and athletic activity. The rate of successful return to manual labor was the highest at 89% after spinal fusion, but no difference was observed between simple disc excision and percutaneous discectomy. Return to competitive sports was achieved at rate of 81% after percutaneous was significantly shorter than after other procedures. In individuals whose lumbar region is expected to be subjected to great mechanical stress, it is important to take work needs and the special needs of athletes into consideration when selecting the surgical procedure.