What Is the Funny Bone Nerve?

What is the name of a Funny Bone in Anatomy? What are its Characteristics? Why is it called the Funny Bone? What are its Functions?

Certain points in your body are more sensitive than others. You must have experienced this when you hit your elbow somewhere accidentally. You feel a rush of pain that makes you cringe. Today you will know what is the funny bone nerve and what is the funny bone nerve called in anatomy.

1. What is the Funny Bone Nerve called?

In anatomy, the funny bone is referred to as the ulnar nerve. Your lower arms have two bones, radius, and ulna. The ulnar nerve is present near the ulna and connects with the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow joint.  (See How many bones in the human body?)

2. What are its Characteristics?

Apart from knowing what is the funny bone nerve, you should know its characteritics.

  • It is a nerve, not a bone. It is the longest nerve in the human body.
  • It is not protected or supported by any muscle or bone.
  • It is connected directly to your pinky finger. Its adjacent half is connected to your ring finger, which causes the innervation of these fingers.
  • It sends signals to your spinal cord and brain regarding your pinky finger and ring finger. It controls various functions of the muscles in your arm and hand. (See Why is Your Small Finger Called a Pinky?)

3. Why is it called the Funny Bone?

The ulnar nerve, the funny bone is trapped between the medial epicondyle bone and overlying skin at the point where your elbow flexes. The name funny bone is a pun on the name of the upper arm bone humerus. Humorous being the homonym of humerus ultimately led to this nerve being called the funny nerve or funny bone. So this is the reason behind the question of what is the funny bone nerve called. (Also read What makes a joke funny?)

Even in the Oxford English dictionary, it is referred to as the peculiar sensation experienced when this nerve is stricken. You must have experienced this weird sensation when you can neither laugh nor cry and your voice becomes numb when you hit your elbow. 

4. What is the Funny Bone Nerve Structure?

  • Your funny nerve is a branch nerve of the brachial plexus. It arises from the C8 and T1 nerve roots.
  • It travels down from the shoulders and then branches out into various motor and sensory branches. The first two branches it diverges into are the two motor nerve branches of your arm.
  • At the elbow joint, the ulnar nerve has an articular branch. It is divided into the palmar cutaneous and the dorsal branch, a few inches above your wrists. (See How Many Cells Are in the Human Body?)
  • As articular branches are the nerves found around the joints, there is another particular branch of the ulnar nerve at your wrists.
  • In the palm, it is divided into the deep branch, digital branch, and superficial branch. (Also read What Is the Strongest Muscle in Your Body?)

5. What functions do Motor Nerves perform?

 The functions controlled by motor nerves are as follows:

  • The small motor branches help you in moving your fingers and spreading them. The flexes of your pinky and ring finger are controlled by the part of the flexor digitorum profundus in your arm.
  • The flexes of your hands are controlled by the flexor carpi ulnaris in your arm. (Also read What are the characteristics of a mesomorph body type?)

6. What are the functions of Sensory Branches?

  • The sensations from the back of your pinky finger and half of the back portion of your ring finger are carried by the dorsal cutaneous branch. 
  • The sensations from the lateral portion of your palm, which is located directly near your pinky finger, are carried by the palmar cutaneous branch. 
  • The sensations from the front part of your pinky finger and half of your ring finger are carried by the superficial branch. (Also read What happens to your body when you get an electric shock?)

7. What are the Conditions responsible for Ulnar Nerve?

  • Cubital tunnel Syndrome occurs due to compression of the nerve resulting in swelling in areas near your elbow. (See How does it feel to break a bone?)
  • Stinger can be described as the electric shock sensation that lasts for a few seconds when your elbow bumps into something. 
  • Guyon’s canal Syndrome is also known as ulnar tunnel syndrome. In this condition, the area near your wrists swells up. 
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs due to pressure in the neck which compresses the brachial plexus nerves, influencing the functioning of the ulnar nerve.
  • Injury in your arm or hand can also damage your ulnar nerve and its branches. It will affect the functioning of the nerves. (See What does it feel like to lose a limb in an accident?)

8. What Signs are tested for the functioning of Ulnar Nerve?

  • A claw sign is when your hand flexes like a claw. It happens because of the weakness in your hand muscles. This condition is accompanied by another issue with the hands, known as muscle atrophy. It occurs when your muscles become thin due to not being used as they should be. 
  • Froment’s sign is a muscular test in which your doctor will ask you to hold a paper or something similar between your thumb and forefinger (index finger). If your ulnar nerve is weak, you will not be able to hold the paper while your doctor pulls it back. He will understand the defect when your thumb flexes as you try to hold on to the paper tightly. 
  • Tinel’s sign is a diagnostic test that detects the area in your hand where the nerve is compressed. In this test, the doctor taps on your nerves at the suspected areas of your elbow and wrists. (See A list of incredible scientific discoveries)

9. How is the Funny Bone Concept used in a Phrase?

As it sounds similar to humorous, this nerve is used in slang as well. For instance, people say ‘it tickles my funny bone’ while they find something funny. (Also read Ahoy Hoy Meaning and Usage)

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