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Uploaded:2018-10-23
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♩.

Squeaks and I just got back from playing in the big pile of leaves near the Fort! But something kind of strange happened.

When we came inside for lunch, I accidentally hit my elbow against the table in the Fort’s kitchen, and it actually really hurt. Even weirder, I felt pain all the way down my arm to my fingers, even though only my elbow hit the table. [Squeaks squeaks]. Don’t worry, Squeaks.

I’m totally okay now! Still, I didn’t hit my elbow against the table that hard against the table. So why did it hurt so much?

And why did I feel a strange tingly pain all the way to my fingers? I know my fingers didn’t hit the table, just my elbow. Weird, right?

Well, the part of the elbow I hit is called the funny bone. It’s way more sensitive than other parts of your body, so if you accidentally bump it, it can really hurt. But the reason I could feel it all the way in the tips of my fingers is that the funny bone isn’t a bone at all. [Squeaks squeaks].

It’s actually a nerve. A nerve helps information travel between your body and your brain. We have them all throughout our bodies, from our fingers to our toes and everywhere in between.

And there’s a special name for all these nerves: the nervous system. It helps us do, well, everything. When we touch something with our fingers, we can feel it because the nerves in our fingers are carrying the message all the way from our hand to our brain.

The message tells the brain, “Hey, we’re touching something right now!” The nervous system also helps us see, carrying the picture from our eyes to our brain. So, we really need our nervous system, or else different parts of our body wouldn’t be able to communicate with our brain. Our brain works with the rest of our body to make sense of the world.

And that includes when we feel pain. You might be wondering why we need to feel pain at all. I mean, it really hurts!

But our nervous system is actually helping us! Say I had some soup that was too hot. If my nervous system didn’t tell my brain “That soup is too hot,” I could burn my mouth by continuing to eat it.

But since my nervous system spoke up, I knew to let the soup cool off just a little bit. So, let’s go back to when I hurt my elbow. For most of the body, the nervous system is protected by other parts of the body, like muscles.

Basically, it’s padded nicely so that if I, say, bump my leg or the side of my arm, it doesn’t hurt that much. But on this little part of my elbow, the nerve isn’t protected. This nerve has a special name: the ulnar nerve.

The ulnar nerve runs from your neck, down your shoulder, all the way to your hand. Then it splits into two branches – one is inside your pinky finger and the other branch is inside your ring finger. When the nerve gets bumped at your elbow, it actually bumps up right against your bone!

That’s why it hurts so much. And you can feel that pain all the way down the rest of your ulnar nerve, to your fingers. But, don’t worry, if you do accidentally bump your funny bone, the pain will go away.

Although you should always tell a grown-up just in case. So, now you know why bumping your funny bone hurts so much. But that doesn’t explain why we call it a “funny bone”!

Getting hurt isn’t funny. Well, people have two ideas about where the name came from. The first idea has to do with one of the bones in your arm close to where the nerve is.

This bone is called the humerus, and that sounds a lot like humorous, which is another word for funny. The second idea is just that it feels funny when you hit your funny bone – not “ha ha” funny, but that it’s kind of weird, which is another way that people use the word “funny.” Well, Squeaks, from now on, I’m going to be careful not to hit my elbow. But if I do, at least now I know why it hurts and that the pain will go away soon!

Thanks for joining us. If you want to keep learning about the weird and fascinating ways that our bodies work, and keep discovering stuff about our amazing world, hit the subscribe button, and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort! ♩.