My doctor has told me that I can put off having surgery for a herniated disc but how long should I wait? How can I tell when to do it?
Studies have shown over and over now that surgery for some herniated discs can be postponed. Most patients judge the type and timing of treatment based on how severe or tolerable symptoms may be.

For patients who can work and carry out daily activities, conservative care may be all that's needed. And the reason researchers have come to that conclusion is because they compared long-term results for patients who had surgery versus those who didn't.

It turns out that at the end of 12 months, the results are no different between the two groups. So the best advice is to avoid surgery. Even if it means a prolonged period of nonoperative care, it's probably worth it.

On the other hand, if you can't tolerate the pain, then early surgery is still an option. Likewise, if there is enough nerve damage to cause weakness, disc surgery is a sensible choice.