My nephew has an episode of painful bulging disc every six months or so. Between episodes, he seems to do fine - no pain. He's very active in sports like softball, golf, and basketball.
Sometimes his disc starts bulging out after a long drive, a long time at the computer, or for some unknown reason. But when it starts acting up, he has to stay home from work, rest in bed with muscle relaxants, or get a treatment at the chiropractor or physical therapist.
He is in real pain so there must be a nerve that is being compressed. In about 4-5 days he is much better.