I had a herniated disc in 2009, but it was L4 rather than cervical. I was in Dresden at the time, and it started with a gradual dull pain in one leg, and got worse every day for about 6 weeks.
It too was diagnosed finally with an MRI. My GP hadn't managed to fix what we thought might be a different issue, and she called the hospital with the MRI scanner on a thursday aftenoon and I was seen on the monday, left with a CD containing the images and a program to view them, and my GP had a fax with the analysis two days later.
Anyway, the doctor wanted to avoid surgery at all costs (which suited me absolutely fine), and I was prescribed painkillers and physio. She said if ever at any point I started to lose feeling in the leg to go immediately to A&E and they'd operate. But as I say, she really wanted to avoid that.
Eventually the drugs and physio worked, and as things got better I ramped down the painkilllers until I didn't need any more. Since then I have taken more care of my back, and also had a series of sessions with a kiné méthode Mézière, and haven't been in such good shape for a long long long time. I was 51 last birthday, by the way. Aparently there's a window of opportunity for such hernias, and beyond about 55 I don't think they happen any more.