Your Funny Bone

Your Funny Bone

Fun)ny Bone

When I  asked what I should write this blog on, I was told to write something fun.  ‘Fun!’,  I wondered. ‘But this is medicine!?’. I thought long and hard…



Funny Bone!

I’ve always wondered why it’s called the funny bone. Have you?

I’m talking about the unpleasant, strange sensation that occurs sometimes when we hit our elbows against something hard. Doctors know what happens because we study anatomy. Anatomy is the study of the body and where all the bits are. And you need to know some of those bits to know why it feels so funny when we hit our elbows.

The Humerus is the long and hard bone that runs from your shoulder to your elbow. Along the bone runs a nerve on its way to the hand and fingers, it’s called the Ulnar nerve. It gets this name because for most of the nerve’s length it runs beside a bone in the lower arm called the Ulna. When the Ulnar nerve runs past the elbow it sits in a groove made by the Humerus bone. If you bend your elbow and feel around for hard bits you’ll likely find three. One big hard bit right on the point of your elbow called the Olecranon, and there are hard bits either side, the hard bit closer to the body is called the Medial Epicondyle. The Ulnar nerve runs between the Olecranon and the Medial Epicondyle, just between the bone and the skin (Not great design right. The nerve here is the most exposed nerve in the body, that’s why the funny sensation only occurs when you hit your elbow and at just the right spot).

Go ahead, bend your elbow and feel for it. I’ll wait…

I have a few theories as to why it’s called the funny bone.

One, because the bone involved is called the Humerus, get it, the ‘humorous’.

Two, because the sensation you get when you hit it is so strange or ‘funny’, and

Three (and my favourite), because when you see someone else hit their elbow and go ‘Owwww!’ it’s funny.     : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *