Almost everybody experiences neck pain from time to time, whether from sleeping in an awkward position or sitting hunched over for 10-20 minutes. But most of us ignore it simply because we know it`s only temporary and it will go away on its own.

On the other hand, if and when you start experiencing this pain more and more often, or in longer duration, it is time to do something about it. Whatever you decide to do, please do not panic! Talk to your doctor and explain the symptoms to find out how to take care of it.

The Difference Between A Bulging And Herniated Disk In The Neck

Even though these two conditions may seem similar, there is a difference between them. A bulging disk in neck is a condition where the intervertebral disk extends of the space it usually occupies. This “bulge” will usually occur normally, as a part of the aging process.

Herniated disk in the neck, on the other hand, is a condition where the outer ring of the disk is damaged and the cartilage pushes out.
Bulging disk is generally more common but herniated disk in the neck is more often associated with pain. There are also cases where the condition exists, but no pain is present.

Source: Randy A. Shelerud, M.D. at

Causes and Symptoms Of Herniated Disc In Neck

The causes can vary, and I cannot give you an ultimate list of causes that apply to every disc herniation, but I can give you some of the most common ones:

  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Age
  • Poor habits such as smoking or drinking; or poor sitting and standing posture
  • Repetitive bending/twisting motion
  • Trauma


Herniated And Bulging Disc In Neck Anatomical Illustration
Img source: Mayo Clinic

The most common symptom of bulging disk in neck is pain, but this is the pain often experienced in shoulders or arms. Reason behind this referred pain is the pressure to the nerves that serve shoulders and arms which pass through the neck.

Along with pain, patients will often experience tingling, burning sensation, or even numbness.

Another symptom that can manifest is weakness in the upper body (hands and shoulders most commonly), which can impair your lifting capabilities or cause muscle strength disbalance between left and right side.

Addressing The Pain

Addressing the pain and medical conditions such as this one on your own is not a very good idea and I would not advise it. If you notice any of the above symptoms it would be a good idea to contact your doctor.

Of course, if the pain comes and goes away on its own in couple minutes/hours there is no need to go see a doctor, but if the pain persists, or gets more intense, as the time goes by, you should seek medical help.

That being said, I am going to give you some tips you can use in your fight pain from bulging disk in neck:

Changing Sleeping Patter/Position

Choosing the right sleeping position along with the correct mattress is one of the foundations of good spinal health. Just think about it, we spend almost a third of our life sleeping, and even though poor sleeping posture might not bother you now `cause you are young and healthy, but it can add up and cause problems later in life.

So, if you are experiencing back problems or slipped disc in the neck, your best bet is getting a hard mattress along with some good neck support!

Doing Stretches And Exercising

It would be best if you used stretching and exercises as measures of preventing the pain even occurring. Note the word “prevention,” as I will not advise you to do any sort of exercises or stretches since I am not familiar with your condition and I do not want you to make it worse.

I can only advise you to exercise when you start feeling better, so you can strengthen your muscles, loosen up the tension in your ligaments and tendons and prevent the pain from appearing in the first place.

If you are interested in some exercises and stretches, you can read some of our other articles:

Back Pain Exercises

Low Impact Exercises

Why Stretching Is Important For Your Health


You need to remember that medication will only address the symptoms and make the condition more bearable by reducing pain; they will not cure you (in most cases). I am not against medication if the pain is unbearable, but I am advising you to dig a bit deeper (together with your doctor) and find out what is the real cause behind your pain and why did the bulge in the disk appear in the first place.