Why does the funny bone hurt so much when you hit it?

The “funny bone” hurts when you hit it because it is not really a bone. It is a nerve, the ulnar nerve. The large bone of your upper arm is called the humerus and the humerus is one of three bones that make the elbow joint. The ulnar nerve is a large nerve on the inside of your elbow and lies close to the surface of your skin with little padding or protection. Because of the similarity in the words humerus (a bone) and humorous (something funny) is most likely why the ulnar nerve has the nickname “funny bone”. Most people would say there is nothing funny about the pain and tingling sensations that shoot down your forearm when you bump the ulnar nerve. This pain and tingling can go all the way to your little and ring fingers, but it should go away rather quickly.

(This answer provided for NATA by Barney Graff, MS, ATC.)

Continue Learning about Nerves

What is a pinched nerve?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
The term "pinched nerve" describes one type of damage or injury to a nerve or a set of nerves. The i...
More Answers
What is the prognosis for a pinched nerve?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
With treatment, most people recover from a pinched nerve. However, in some cases, damage is irrevers...
More Answers
What can cause electric shock-like sensations on my face?
Jeffrey A. Brown, MDJeffrey A. Brown, MD
If your dentist doesn’t see a cause for this kind of facial pain, consider a nerve-related or “neuro...
More Answers
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus is a long, wandering nerve that spends most of its time updating your brain on the goi...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.