Herniated disc of the cervical spine and herniated disc of the lumbar spine will occasionally need surgery. Most often, the indication for the surgery is constant pain, numbness or tingling in an arm or leg. Here's an interesting fact: 90% of the herniated discs diagnosed by MRI get better on their own and don't require surgery!
There are some urgent situations that people with herniated disc of the cervical or lumbar spine should be aware of. If a patient should develop progressive numbness, progressive weakness, bowel or bladder loss of control, or inability to ambulate, then they need to contact their physician immediately or go to the emergency room right away. These situations arise very rarely, but are considered emergent indications for surgery. Fortunately, most patients do not have such extreme symptoms. By far, the majority of people receiving surgery do so because of unremitting pain.