Study designRetrospective cohort study.ObjectiveTo evaluate the effect of time to first ambulation on recurrence after percutaneous endoscopic lumbar discectomy (PELD).MethodsFrom July 2017 to August 2018, 90 patients with lumbar intervertebral disc herniation underwent PELD surgery. According to the initial walking time, i.e., the time until the patient could walk after the operation, the operations were divided into three groups: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. The follow-up period was 3 months, and complete follow-up data were obtained. The visual analog scale (VAS) and Oswestry disability index (ODI) scores before the operation, at first ambulation, 1 month after the operation, and 3 months after the operation and the recurrence and incidence rates of high magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signal in the vertebral endplate area were recorded after the operation.ResultsThe success rate was 100% for these 90 cases. The VAS and ODI scores at the first ambulation after the operation significantly improved compared with those before the operation, and the difference was statistically significant. The improvements in the lumbar VAS and ODI scores of the middle- and late-stage groups were better than that of the early-stage group at 1 and 3 months after the operation, and the differences were statistically significant; however, there was no significant difference between the middle- and late-stage groups. The postoperative recurrence rate and rate of high MRI signal in the vertebral endplate area were significantly higher in the early-stage group than in the other two groups, and the difference was statistically significant.ConclusionThe time to first ambulation after PELD is an important factor affecting the curative effect of the operation. Early ambulation may be one of the factors affecting recurrence after PELD.