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Life in Motion

Why is it Called the Funny Bone?

Health & Prevention

Bumping your “funny bone” is not funny at all – it hurts. In addition, it’s not even a bone! So why is it called the “funny bone”?

What is the “Funny Bone” and why does it Hurt

The “funny bone” is the spot at the back of your elbow where the ulnar nerve (one of the three main nerves in the arm) rests against the humerus (upper arm bone).

The ulnar nerve runs from your shoulder into your hand, where it is mostly protected by bones, muscles and/or ligaments. As the nerve passes the elbow, it is protected only by skin and fat, making it vulnerable to bumps. When you hit your funny bone, you’re actually hitting the nerve itself or hitting the nerve against the bone and compressing it. The result is pain, tingling, and numbness.

Where Did the Name Come From?

There are two thoughts on where the name “funny bone” originated. It may be based on the sound resemblance between the name of the upper arm bone, the “humerus” and the word “humorous”, used to describe something funny. It may also refer to the odd sensation you get when it is struck.

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