Pain is the natural response to the stimulus hurting physically or emotionally. Some people consider emotional pain more unbearable than physical pain. Regardless, pain is painful whether it is physical or emotional. Ever bumped your elbow and wondered about what causes funny bone pain unusually. At that moment a question might have crossed your mind as well what happens when you hit your funny bone resulting in such pain.
1. What is the Funny Bone?
The funny bone is not a bone but a nerve that runs from your shoulders to your fingers. It is anatomically known as the Ulnar nerve. It is the largest nerve that controls the functions of the various muscles in your arms. (See Interesting History of Dino Bones)
2. Why do you call it the Funny Bone?
Before understanding what causes funny bone pain and its effect, you should know why it is named so. Even though the sensation and pain are not funny at all, people referred to it as a funny bone because of the bone humerus. Since humorous and humerus sound similar, someone decided to name this nerve as the funny bone. (Also read What makes a joke funny?)
3. What happens when you Hit your Funny Bone?
When you hit the funny bone, there is an electric shock-like sensation that runs down from your arm and spreads into your hand. You must have felt this sensation when you accidentally bump your elbow. As it is a nerve, the sensation makes you cringe. Now you might wonder, what causes funny bone pain, let’s read about it in the next segment. (See How many bones in the human body?)
4. What causes Funny Bone Pain?
Your elbow is the junction or joint where three bones join together. The arm bone (humerus) and the forearm bones (radius and ulna) are joined at the elbow. The ulnar nerve is located behind the elbow joint in the tight course. It is the point where this nerve is most susceptible to getting disturbed when you bump your elbow. (See What Is the Funny Bone Nerve?)
5. How does the Sensation travel to the Entire Hand?
Everyone feels the same sensation because of the distribution of the ulnar nerve. It is branched to your pinky finger and half of the ring finger, so the sensation is felt the most in these two fingers. The other nerves supplying this sensation to the arm and hand are the median nerve and the radial nerve. (Also read What happens to your body when you get an electric shock?)
6. How to Reduce and treat that Sensation at Home?
Knowing what causes funny bone pain is not enough as you have to know the solution to it. Generally, everyone simply shakes their hand or rubs their elbow to reduce the sensation. It eases the irritation of the nerves and the sensation slowly fades away. If this does not work and you can feel swelling or redness then try out the following methods.
- Stretch and straighten your elbow to relax the nerve.
- Try to limit the movement of the elbow.
- Apply ice to reduce the inflammation.
- Take anti-inflammatory medications (only prescribed by a medical practitioner) to reduce the inflammation. (See 15 Nicotine Facts Everyone Ought to Know About)
7. What are the Factors leading to Ulnar Nerve Diseases?
- You had a prior elbow injury like a dislocated elbow or a fracture.
- Diseases like arthritis or bone spurs also cause compression on the nerve.
- You are pressurizing the nerve by repeated or prolonged stress resulting from a flexed elbow.
- There is a cyst or swelling near the elbow joint. (Also read How does it feel to break a bone?)
8. Can Elbow Injury be Serious?
It is not common to develop serious elbow injuries by irritating your funny bone once or twice a year. In rare cases, if the ulnar nerve is injured for some reason, then it can lead to a condition known as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. Your elbow nerve normally stretches about 2 cm when you bend your elbow back and forth. But the stress on this nerve increases when the elbow bends beyond 90 degrees. Symptoms of this syndrome are as follows:
- The intrinsic muscles of your hand become weak. They control the movements of your fingers. You find it hard to hold objects and might often drop them.
- There may be pins and needles symptoms in your small finger. Your pinky finger feels a tingling sensation which is often numb and it aches. (See What does it feel like to lose a limb in an accident?)
Apart from this syndrome, you may feel some serious issues too when the elbow is bent for a long time. In a severe condition, it can cause ulnar nerve disposition. Nerve damage can also cause ulnar nerve dysfunction. It is caused because of constant pressure on the elbow. Internal factors like systemic disorders (diseases that affect the entire body) can also result in isolated nerve damage.
9. Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome treatable?
Yes, if attended at the right time then there are high chances of treating it. The treatment of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome involves some steps as mentioned here:
- Avoid leaning on your elbow for longer periods. Do not put pressure on the insides of your elbow. For instance, you should avoid resting your elbow on the window while driving.
- Use padding while relaxing or working. For instance, if you are using a computer then avoid resting your elbow on the armrest.
- Splint the elbow. While sleeping, it is better to keep your elbow straight. This can be done by wrapping it with a towel or wearing an elbow pad.
- Take the prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. If there is no improvement then the tension on the nerve is treated through surgery. (Also read 14 Disastrous Health Effects of Smoking)
10. How to Medically Treat the Ulnar Nerve Diseases?
Your doctor will prescribe the following necessary tests for you:
- He will ask you to hold something within your index finger and thumb. The more things you hold, the better your nerve is.
- He will check the location of your nerve while you bend your elbow to understand the problem. If the nerve dislocates then it needs treatment.
- Moving your neck, elbow, fingers, shoulders, and wrists will help in locating the symptoms associated with the ulnar nerve.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or electromyography (EMG) can be done for viewing the nerve (See A list of incredible scientific discoveries)
- Blood tests or nerve conduction tests can be done to check the speed of signal transmission within the nerve. In rare cases, a nerve biopsy is needed to examine a part of the nerve tissue.
Now you know what causes funny bone pain and what goes inside when you hit your funny bone. Share this information with your friends and family to make them aware of the conditions related to the ulnar nerve and how to treat it. (Also read 90 Mind Blowing Human Body Facts)