Unlike most other bones in the body, the vertebrae have quite a complex structure; they have a circular ‘hole’ in the, known as the vertebral foramen, when the spinal cord passes through. The vertebrae in the neck have two other holes to allow the arteries and veins that pass blood to and from the head to travel through.
Between each vertebrae, and acting as both connectors and “shock absorbers” are intervertebral discs. The discs create space that allow a number of major nerves to branch out from the spinal cord to other areas of the body. The vertebrae are also connected to each other by “facet joints” – that’s the knobbly bit you can feel sometimes.
A number of muscles also connect into the neck, and it’s these muscles, along with the design of the vertebrate, discs and facet joints, that allows your neck to move both left and right (technically known as rotation) and up and down (known as flexion)
Medically, this area is referred to as your cervical spine or c-spine, the seven vertebrae in it are referred to as C1 all the way through to C7 (C1 is sometime called the atlas and C2 is sometimes called the axis); all in all, it’s a pretty complex area.