There is no single regimen that can be considered as the best treatment for lower back pain. The wide array of back pain causes and the varying severity of each cause require that treatment methods are specifically tailored to each individual condition. Thus, it is difficult to say that rest, drugs or surgery can not be considered the best options for treating lower back pain for each diagnosed case.
Of course, from the point of view of preference and convenience, doctors hope that rest, therapy and other non-invasive treatments will be sufficient to treat lower back problems. This is because prescribing rest, therapy and pain medication implies that the condition has not progressed beyond the point where it already requires surgery. For doctors and patients, it's good news. After all, no one would like to risk surgery given all the potential complications that may result from the procedure.
However, there are also times when surgery becomes the best treatment for lower back pain and no other method will suffice. This is usually because a herniated disc is damaged enough that it is permanently pressing on the nerve roots surrounding its location resulting in extreme and continuous pain.
In more advanced cases, the removal of the disc is required. When this happens, the recovery time can take up to 3 months, but if it is done successfully, it will provide a permanent relief of the swimmer pain caused by the herniated disk.