This well written article lays out the evidence that a herniated disk may in fact have little to do with your back pain. Briefly, while many people with back pain do have herniated disks, a random sample of people without back pain revealed 17-52% had some level of herniation. This means that 'fixing' a herniated disk with surgery doesn't necessarily mean that your pain will go away. A herniation need not cause any pain at all (probably it did when it first occurred, but the pain may not have lasted long). I won't bother to summarize the article any farther, since it's quite well written (complete with references!). Definitely an interesting read.