If you’ve ever hit your funny bone, you probably remember it. If you bump the inside of your elbow in just that certain place, you’ll experience a weird tingling feeling or maybe even a dull pain that smarts just a bit. It usually feels like a weird “pins and needles” sensation, and it may hurt.
That’s your funny bone! And the funny thing is…it’s not a bone at all! The “funny bone” is actually a nerve. The ulnar nerve runs along the inside part of your elbow. It sends information to the brain from your pinky finger and the finger right next to it. It also controls some of your hand’s movements.
The ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected nerve in the body. Unlike most other nerves that are protected by muscle or bone, the ulnar nerve sits on top of the hard part of your elbow where there’s usually not much fatty tissue to cushion it.
As a result, the ulnar nerve is easy to ding by bumping it against something. When this happens, the ulnar nerve is pressed against the nearby humerus bone, which is the long bone that goes from your elbow to your shoulder.
Bumping your “funny bone” like this doesn’t do any damage to your elbow or the ulnar nerve, but it sure feels weird! You can usually feel the sensation primarily in the areas controlled by the ulnar nerve: your pinky and ring fingers.
If you’re wondering how the “funny bone” got its name, there are a couple of theories. Some people believe it’s because of the funny feeling (funny as in “weird,” not funny as in “ha-ha!”) you get when you bump your elbow in this way.