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Posted by on Oct 11, 2015 in Tell Me Why |

What Is a Funny Bone?

What Is a Funny Bone?

A “funny bone” is not really a bone at all. It is actually a bundle of nerves that passes near the elbow. We call the whole bundle the “ulnar” nerve.

When you touch something hot or cold, these sensitive nerves carry the messages of feeling from the arm to the brain. It’s also one of the nerves that control some movement of your hand.

If you happen to hit the spot where these nerves pass over the bony elbow joint, you feel a painful tingling in your arm. One thing is for sure — it isn’t funny at all!

Maybe the “funny bone” gets its name because the bone it lies near is called the “humerus.” It sounds like “humorous,” which means funny.

It isn’t actually clear how the funny bone got its name. Some say that the name is derived from the funny, tingly feeling you get when you strike it the wrong way.

We might not know exactly why it’s called the funny bone, but we do know why it hurts so much to hit it.

But as bad as that sounds, for most people the funny feeling they get from striking the ulnar nerve is a fleeting sensation. After you rub your elbow for a few minutes, the feeling usually passes.

Content for this question contributed by Richard Danao, resident of Manila, Philippines