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What's a Funny Bone?

Have you ever hit the inside of your elbow in just the right spot and felt a tingling or prickly kind of dull pain? That's your funny bone! It doesn't really hurt as much as it feels weird. The "funny bone" got its nickname because of that funny feeling you get after you hit it.

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 lets your brain know about feelings in your fourth and fifth fingers. It's also one of the nerves that controls some movement of your hand.

You get that funny feeling when the ulnar nerve is bumped against the humerus (say: HYOO-muh-rus), the long bone that starts at your elbow and goes up to your shoulder. Tapping your funny bone doesn't do any damage to your elbow, arm, or ulnar nerve. But it sure feels strange!

People sometimes mention the funny bone when they talk about their sense of humor. Maybe you've heard someone say that something "really tickled my funny bone." We'll leave you with a joke and hope that it tickles yours:

What's a bone in your body that you can never break? Your funny bone!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2013