What is the funny bone?
What is the funny bone?
If you’ve ever hit your funny bone, chances are you didn’t laugh. This super-sensitive tip of your elbow isn’t actually a bone, but a nerve called the ulnar nerve.
Your ulnar nerve runs from your neck all the way to the tip of your pinky finger and controls muscles in your hand and forearm, helping your fingers move and your hand to grip things tightly.
Why does the funny bone hurt so much when you hit it?
Like most other nerves in your body, the ulnar nerve is mostly protected and insulated by bones, muscles and/or ligaments. However, it becomes exposed as it passes the elbow, running through a channel called the cubital tunnel. Inside the cubital tunnel, the nerve is only protected by skin and fat, meaning that if you hit it just the right way, it compresses against your bone, shocking your forearm and hand with tingles, numbness and pain.
How did the funny bone get its name?
There are a few different explanations for how the funny bone may have gotten its name. Some say it’s named for the funny feeling you get when you hit it. Others claim the name is more punny than funny — an allusion to the fact that the nerve runs along the humerus bone, which sounds like “humorous.”
Can you injure your funny bone?
Since the ulnar nerve is close to the surface of your skin and only protected by skin and fat in some places, injuring it isn’t hard to do. When you damage your ulnar nerve, you can lose sensation in your forearm and hand, a condition called ulnar nerve palsy or ulnar neuropathy. This can affect your ability to perform fine movements and routine tasks. In severe cases, ulnar nerve palsy can cause your muscles to atrophy, which may require surgery.
Other ways you can injure your elbow
Elbow injuries in general aren’t all that uncommon. Since your elbow enables your forearm and hand to rotate and move, elbow instability, stiffness and pain can be triggered for a number of different reasons. Elbow fractures are common in kids and the elderly, often occurring through a direct blow or by falling on an extended arm.
Overuse injuries caused by continuous overhand throwing can also lead to discomfort and injury. Onward Orthopedic surgeons are prepared to diagnose the cause of your elbow pain and restore its full range of motion.
Some common elbow conditions include:
- Tennis elbow
- UCL injuries
- Bicep tears
- Elbow burstitis
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Pronator teres syndrom
- Posterior interosseous nerve syndrome
Healing is possible
You deserve proven, minimally invasive techniques to reduce the pain and length of recovery from your elbow injury. At Onward Orthopedics, we partner with only the best orthopedic surgeons in your area to ensure you receive personalized care specific to your needs, no matter your age.
Your Onward physician will personally evaluate you to understand your goals and your history before recommending which procedure you should undergo. If you think you might qualify for treatment, request an appointment online or call us at 210.880.3823.