I second Dharma's question, as in which disc are we talking about?
Most back problems can be helped by exercise and in particular, water exercises, however I do have a friend (who is 22) who has a problem with fluid leaking from her disks, where doctors recommended not using water exercises. I think you should try and find a doctor who has experience in your particular circumstances.
Surgery is a last resort - I was born with an extra half vertebrae that causes scoliosis (as of an xray 7 years ago I have about a 48% angle on my spine) - and the doctors told me they would only operate if I wanted to, pretty much if it became very difficult to walk.
My father has a very bad back due to a car accident, and the same doctor who saw me, who is a back expert in my state, told him that the reason he was doing so well after the accident was because he remained active (walking, water exercises) and that he wished more of his patients were as active as him.
All I can say is that it matters how it happened and where it happened, and it matters who you see for help. Look for a doctor who other people recommend. I hope this helps.