Great to hear you're pain free. Did you have surgery or was PT effective?
I, fortunately, haven't had to deal with such problems myself, but my wife has. She had a herniated disc between C6 and C7, and nearly lost function of her left arm. The first few doctors said it was muscular, so the problem lingered much longer than it should have. Once we saw the right doctor, he scheduled her for a discectomy and bone fusion immediately.
The pain of the herniation was so bad that after surgery I could barely keep her in bed because she felt so much better. The doctor did a great job, and she's now doing much better. The biggest issue was rebuilding the strength she had lost in her arm. But with a gradual ramp up in her workout intensity, she's in better shape now, 1 year later, than she was before the herniation.
Having watched her go through what she did, I now really feel for those that must deal with similar problems. The pain can be just incapacitating, probably more so than most people realize. Congrats on being pain free yourself.