Ever got hurt in the funny bone? Can the sensation be termed funny? Of course Not! When the funny bone is hit, restraining from cursing is seen as the biggest challenge. Detailed list of the bones in the body finds no mention of funny bone in the list.
The term funny used in the funny bone is used to describe the tingling sensation felt when hit on the inside of the elbow at the centre with a hammer. Odd feeling or a feeling of discomfort is a better term than funny.
Basic understanding about a funny bone reveals that a Funny bone is not a bone but the area of the exposed ulnar nerve in the elbow.
Ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected nerve of the body that runs along the inner part of the hand towards the brain. Ulnar nerve lets the brain know about the feelings in the fourth and fifth fingers. Ulnar nerve is one of the main nerves in the hand that controls certain movements of the hand. This nerve connects the little finger to the brain. This nerve cannot be classified as a sensory nerve.
Humerus is a part of the arm covers the elbow and the shoulder. Ulna is the bone that runs from elbow to the little finger. Funny bone is a highly sensitive area at the back of the elbow, where the ulnar nerve passes close to the surface of the skin in groove between the humerus and the ulna.
Nerves are protected by bones, muscles and ligaments to protect from small hits. Ulnar nerve on the other hand, is covered by skin and a few fat cells. Protection of ulnar nerve is not strong to buffer it against small hits resulting in pain. A hit on the elbow is medically a hit on the ulnar nerve against the humerus that sends a tingling sensation as a shock to the last two fingers of the hand. Tingling sensation is a painful electrical impulse experienced as a result of the hit. Painful electrical impulse can be moderate to severe depending on the sensitivity of the person. Severe pain prolongs for days resulting in surgery in rare cases.
It is obvious that the term funny bone is a misnomer. It is possible that the involvement of humerus bone got misinterpreted as humorous and subsequently became funny bone. Funny bone has found its place in the language too. Jokes are often related to the usage ‘tickled the funny bone’. Nevertheless when funny bone is hit it never ‘tickles the funny bone’.