Have you ever hit the inside of your elbow in just the right spot and felt a tingling or prickly kind of dull pain? It doesn’t really hurt as much as it feels weird. Hitting the “funny bone” can happen pretty easily. This body part got its nickname because of that funny feeling that happens after it’s been hit.
But your funny bone isn’t actually a bone at all. Running down the inside part of your elbow is a nerve called the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve controls feeling in your 4th and 5th fingers and is one of the nerves in your arm that controls the movement of your wrist. When the ulnar nerve is bumped against the humerus (say: hyoo-meh-rus), the long bone that starts at your elbow and goes up to your shoulder, it gives you that tingling, strange, or funny feeling. Even though you may be unable to speak for a few seconds (other than to say “ooh!”) because it feels so tingly, tapping your funny bone doesn’t do any damage to your elbow, arm, or ulnar nerve.
People sometimes link the funny bone to their sense of humor. Maybe you’ve heard friends or relatives say “that really tickled my funny bone.” It’s another way of saying that something struck them as being pretty funny! Maybe your little sister told a joke at a family dinner. Even though you might have thought the joke wasn’t too funny, it tickled your uncle’s funny bone because he thought she was cute while telling it. Everyone’s sense of humor is a little different – so their “funny bones” are, too!