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The Funny Bone

May 1, 2022   Return

We’ve all been through it – the point where you accidentally hit your elbow against something and bang! You get this funny, tingly or prickly kind of numbness and sometimes, even a dull pain..   The part of the elbow that causes this funny feeling is called, appropriately enough, the funny bone.

What is the funny bone, exactly?

The funny thing about funny bone (try saying that quickly) is that it is not actually a bone. Surprise, it is actually a nerve called the ulnar nerve.

The ulnar nerve innervates several muscles in the hand and controls their movements.  The nerve traverses through a tunnel of tissues and passes underneath a bump of bone on the inside of where your elbow is.

Now, here’s the fun bit: as the nerve is located near to the skin, what happens is that any impact or a bump to your elbow hits and compresses the ulnar nerve against the bone. This creates the shocking sensation that most people are familiar with. So, the funny bone is a funny nerve in actuality!  

Wait, how did the name “funny bone” come up in the first place?

There is theory that “funny bone” was a derivative of an anatomical pun. The part of the bone that the nerve hits on is called the humerus, which sounds like “humorous” and hence, ‘funny bone’ ! Some people are so smart, right?

Outside of the realm of science and anatomy, ‘funny bone’ is also used by every day people to express humour. Hence, its use in sentences such as: “This article tickled your funny bone”. Well, we hope so anyway! 

When things are not so funny

At the end of the day, the funny bone is a nerve. Continual pressure to the elbow or inner forearm can inflict damage to it and cause sensation and mobility problems in the hand. So, do take care of your funny bone!


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