Injury Care

The Science Behind the Funny Bone: Anatomy and Function

Share

Can understanding the location of the funny bone and how pain can be managed after injury help expedite recovery and prevention for individuals who have hit their funny bone?

Elbow Funny Bone Nerve Injury

Behind the elbow is an area known as the “funny bone,” where the ulnar nerve has less tissue and bone protection. This is where part of the ulnar nerve passes around the back of the elbow. Because less tissue and bone protect the nerve in this area, taking a hit like bumping into something can cause an electric shock-like pain and a tingling sensation down the arm and to the outside fingers typical of an irritated nerve. Most injuries to the funny bone resolve quickly, and the pain disappears after a few seconds or minutes, but sometimes, an ulnar nerve injury can lead to more persistent symptoms.

Anatomy

The funny bone is not a bone but the ulnar nerve. The nerve runs down the arm, passing around the back of the elbow. (Dimitrova, A. et al., 2019) Because the ulnar nerve is on top of the elbow and there is very little fatty cushion, lightly bumping this spot can cause pain and tingling sensations down the forearm. Three bones comprise the junction of the elbow that include:

  • Humerus – arm bone
  • Ulna and radius – forearm bones

The humerus has a groove that protects and holds the ulnar nerve as it passes behind the joint. This is where the nerve can be injured or irritated when the nerve is hit or pinched against the end of the bone, causing the funny bone pain.

Electrical Pain Sensation

When hitting the ulnar nerve or funny bone where the ulnar nerve provides sensation, pain, and electrical/tingling sensations are experienced from the forearm to the outside fingers. This part of the arm and hand is called the ulnar nerve distribution. (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2024) The ulnar nerve provides sensation into most of the pinky finger and about half of the ring finger. Other nerves, including the median and radial nerve, supply sensation to the rest of the hand.

Treatment

Usually, a sharp jolt to the elbow quickly resolves. Some recommendations to help symptoms improve faster include:

  • Shaking the forearm and hand out.
  • Straightening out and bending the elbow to stretch the nerve.
  • Decreasing mobility of the elbow.
  • Applying ice to the area.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications.

Treating Long-Lasting Pain

In rare circumstances, injuries to the ulnar nerve can cause more persistent symptoms, a condition known as cubital tunnel syndrome. Cubital tunnel syndrome can happen after an injury or from elbow overuse. Individuals with cubital tunnel syndrome may benefit from wearing a splint at night. Standard-sized splints can be ordered online, but most are fabricated by an occupational or hand therapist. If symptoms become more long-lasting, surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure and tension on the ulnar nerve (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2024). The procedure decompresses the nerve by relieving any tight constrictions around it and releasing them. In severe cases, the nerve is repositioned to an area that doesn’t place as much pressure on the nerve, known as an ulnar nerve transposition.

Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic works with primary healthcare providers and specialists to develop an optimal health and wellness solution that helps individuals return to normal. Our providers create personalized care plans for each patient, including Functional Medicine, Acupuncture, Electro-Acupuncture, and Sports Medicine principles through an integrated approach to treat injuries and chronic pain syndromes to improve ability through flexibility, mobility, and agility programs to relieve pain. If other treatment is needed, Dr. Jimenez has teamed up with top surgeons, clinical specialists, medical researchers, and rehabilitation providers to provide the most effective treatments.


Chiropractic Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


References

Dimitrova, A., Murchison, C., & Oken, B. (2019). Local effects of acupuncture on the median and ulnar nerves in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome: a pilot mechanistic study protocol. Trials, 20(1), 8. doi.org/10.1186/s13063-018-3094-5

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2024). Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow. orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/ulnar-nerve-entrapment-at-the-elbow-cubital-tunnel-syndrome/

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "The Science Behind the Funny Bone: Anatomy and Function" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card

Published by

Recent Posts

A Guide to Low-Sugar Fruits: Making the Right Choices

Can fruit help with a sweet craving for individuals trying to limit sugar? Fruits Low… Read More

June 13, 2024

Discover the Incredible Benefits of Cycling for Osteoarthritis

Can individuals with osteoarthritis can incorporate cycling to reduce joint pain and regain their joint… Read More

June 13, 2024

The Benefits of Sprint Exercise Training for Fitness Goals

For individuals who don't have time for a full workout, could incorporating sprint exercise training… Read More

June 12, 2024

Exploring the Clinical Approach: A Focus on Nursing

How do healthcare professionals provide a clinical approach in the role of nursing to reducing… Read More

June 12, 2024

Beat the Heat: Tips for Sleeping Better in Hot Weather

High temperatures can disrupt the body's sleep cycles, leading to health problems. Can knowing strategies… Read More

June 11, 2024

Understanding and Managing Nervous Stomach Symptoms

Emotional challenges like anxiety and depression or digestive disorders can cause individuals to experience a… Read More

June 10, 2024