Berkman has missed five starts with the injury, but the Astros had hoped he would heal quickly and could avoid a stint on the DL.
He didn't start Wednesday night but got a pinch single in the seventh inning of Houston's 4-3 win over St. Louis, which moved the Astros within a game of the NL-Central leading Cardinals.
Berkman had an MRI exam and met with Dr. David Lintner on Tuesday, and had expected to return on Friday when the Astros open a three-game series with the New York Mets.
Astros general manager Ed Wade consulted with Lintner again Thursday morning before making the decision.
"We are in agreement that keeping Lance active will only put him in a position of wanting to help the club and re-aggravating the injury," Wade said. "I also spoke to Lance, and he understands. It's not easy to disable one of your key guys, but we want him strong for the stretch drive, so it's the right move."
Berkman, who has only been on the DL once before in his career, was disappointed by the move.
"It's for the best," Berkman said. "I want to be on the field, so I'm not happy about it, but it's for the best. I look forward to getting it right and getting back on the field in a couple of weeks. It's better to be out a couple of weeks than a couple of months."
Infielder Edwin Maysonet was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to take his roster spot.
Berkman has 18 home runs and 55 RBIs and is hitting .273 in 89 games this season.