The funny bone is one of many weak spots on the human body. Home to the delicate ulnar nerve, a thwack to the elbow sparks an excruciating stew of numbness, tingling and agony that sails down your forearm and hand, into your fingers.
If humans could agree on anything at all then, it would be that funny bones must be protected at all costs, because smacking them suucccksss. But apparently, our unabashed dissension applies to even basic biology, as some among us take joy in purposefully banging their ulnar nerves.
I was first introduced to the notion of deriving pleasure by intentionally bumping your funny bone in a stray Reddit thread. It goes like this (sic throughout):
“I’m not a masochist, and I definitely dislike feeling pain, but for whatever reason, I enjoy the feeling of my arm going numb when I hit my funny bone. Sometimes I’ll do it four or five times in rapid succession to really hit it well. It’s developed into a bit of a habit, and I’m trying to stop, since I know it can’t be good for my arms, but it just feels cool to me. I don’t know anyone else who has experienced this, so I figured I’d post it here and see what you all think.”
What I think is that this mad lad has devolved into utter chaos. The funny bone is designed to trigger pain, so how can someone possibly find pleasure in hammering it with a barrage of smacks? The pain seeker further explains their methodology in the comments:
“I should probably add that I don’t just smash my elbow against something. I usually find an angled surface and position the edge in that nook between my elbow bone and the nerve, then I just put pressure on it, and the nerve slides underneath and pops back to the other side. I think the slow anticipation adds to whatever damaged part of my brain enjoys this.”
Bamboozled, I searched further into Reddit and quickly found another funny-bone whacker. “It’s a unique feeling, and if you think of it more as a feeling than something that hurts, you may find it’s not so bad,” they write.
As my understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it began to crumble, I messaged both of these funny-bone beaters in an effort to better understand them. One responded, succinctly saying they’d love to chat, only to disappear into the ether and never return again. (I imagine they struck their funny bone one too many times, RIP.)
So, I turned my curiosity elsewhere. I contacted handful after handful of pain specialists, hoping for some explanation as to why the funny bone could cause pain for one person and pleasure for another. They ignored my questions, presumably because science says only one thing about funny bones: Slamming them hurts.
As such, I started contacting dommes, hoping their deep understanding of sadomasochism could provide some answers. I was wrong: Not a single one entertained my queries.
It seems, then, that nobody knows why these funny-bone smackers find pleasure in pain, not even themselves. I could make up my own theories as to why someone could potentially find bliss in the pain that thwacking a funny bone provides, I guess: In a world where we’ve been robbed of all emotions, sometimes it feels good to feel anything at all. More scientifically speaking, pain causes the central nervous system to release endorphins, which induces feelings of euphoria, and studies show that pain is intrinsically linked to pleasure, a sort of yin and yang. And so, in a way, these funny-bone whackers may have unconsciously trained their brains to respond positively to the act of striking their ulnar nerve. When the funny bone gets banged, the brain says, “Ah, yes! Here come those sweet, sweet endorphins. Do it again!”
In the end, pain and pleasure are fickle things that we still have much to learn about. And if a guy wants to thwack his funny bone multiple times in quick succession, hey, I guess he’s not hurting anyone (else).