Elbow Skin

Grab a hold of the skin on the outside of your elbow.

Tug,squeeze, pinch, twist it as hard as you can.

You won’t feel a thing.


Maybe you don’t feel a thing, but I certainly do. My sensorium is intact there to both light touch, cold, heat, and vibration.

Perhaps you should consult your doctor.

Of course I meant you won’t feel any pain/discomfort

In the 2003 Body Awards it was voted ‘Area of the Body Most Likely to get Accidentally Bashed and Cause Immediate Collapse with Screaming Pain’ so they removed all pain-receptor duties and now it just does a little light stretching from time to time.

Not all pain receptors were removed, hold a lighted match there, you’ll find out

They were. You are either totally wrong or you have defective elbow skin or something. :wink:

This certainly has not been my personal experience, nor my professional experience, having treated many, many elbow injuries, infections, and disease processes which manifest in that location.

Do you have a cite for people not feeling things at the elbow?

I am MOST surprised to discover that our resident medical expert is unaware of this phenomenon. Grab a pretty good pinch of skin and press it together. Almost all people are virtually unaware of the pressure and report feeling nothing. No cite is necessary - only some real-life experience. I understand that a lot of academics won’t acknowledge the existence of something without the requisite citations, but you, Qadgop, I would have thought you’d escape that hubris. A whole lot of showing this to people, trying out on people, experiencing it with others, etc. is my citation. I’ve always figured that there are very few pressure receptors there because the skin keeps on being pressed up against the bone when the arm bends and they’ve either been eliminated through evolution or they’ve been deadened by extensive usage (less likely, I’d think). In any case, the OP is not asserting that there is no sensation there. Only that some stimuli are undetectable.


Again, not in my experience. The patients I’ve tested have reported sensation to filament pinprick and pressure testing there, unless they are far gone into a neuropathy.

And the person asserting a claim needs to back it up with evidence. The OP asserts it is true that no matter how hard you pinch, tug, squeeze, or twist the elbow skin, one doesn’t feel a thing. But he provides no evidence for this claim.

Elbow skin tends to be thicker that some skin elsewhere, but not much. The same applies to the anterior of the knee. I’ve not noticed lack of pain sensation there, either.

Now, there are areas in the body where there are more receptors for pressure, temperature, etc. (such as the fingertips, face, tongue, genitals, lips) but I know of no research showing that the elbows are not supplied with normal amounts of sensory nerve fibers for a flexor-extensor surface.

The sensory homunculus model shows that the elbows are as well enervated with sensory nerve fibers as most of the rest of the body not devoted specifically to tactile exploration: http://gc.sfc.keio.ac.jp/class/2004_14453/slides/09/img/64.png

Here’s another sensorium-mapping graphic (on the right) showing relative amounts of sensory nerve fibers devoted to various body parts: http://faculty.etsu.edu/currie/images/homunculus1.JPG

I feel it (a “pinch and twist”), and if I do it sufficiently, it hurts to the point that I stop. In the interests of science, I tried both elbows – same result.

I will note that it’s hard to DO on the elbow when your arm is bent because the skin’s stretched pretty tight, but relax a little bit and I can grab a great hunk (too much – need to lose a little) and twist it – which then hurts and makes me want to stop. The pain is similar to my doing the same thing to other points on my body that don’t have particularly high nerve densities, such as my side or thigh.

The phenomenon described by the OP is either not universal, or not sufficiently described.

Note that it’s usually SMALL amounts of skin pinched or twisted that produce extreme pain – that’s very hard to accomplish on these parts of (my) body, just because of physical structure – but if I persevere, I can hurt myself this way, too. My interest in science has been satisfied in this matter, in fact. I don’t wish to do any more experiments on myself.

I’ve just tried the experiment and I’m with **chowder ** on this one. I find I have to pinch *very * hard to feel anything you could call “pain”, and even then it’s extremely mild, in fact “slight discomfort” would be a better description. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with me neurologically, despite the suggestions that have been made by other posters. Maybe it’s a genetic thing, like being able to curl your tongue.

I guess I’m a mutant too because I don’t have much pain when I grab a hunk of skin on my straightened elbow and squeeze the bejeebers out of it. Years ago I was at a comedy club and the guy on stage mentioned this, he actually had me do a little audience participation and lock a pair of Vise Grips onto that hunk of skin and stand there, clamping pliers dangling from my arm. Didn’t hurt at all.

Compare this with pinching skin on most other parts of my body - for example even a mild pinch on any spot of my arm and there’s an “ouch” feeling.

I always assumed this was due to it being a place with a chunk of loose, thick skin that has to slide over a fairly wide range of motion. It’s only tight against the bone when you flex your arm, the rest of the time it’s just a hunk of epidermis, no muscle right underneath or anything. Maybe that lack of stuff underneath has something to do with it?

Now that I’m poking and prodding myself I find that the second knuckle of my fingers is pretty similar (that is, the first knuckle after your finger seperates from your hand). If I straighten out my fingers, the skin on top is loose and I can pinch and twist it pretty hard with no discomfort.

well I fell pinching my forearm skin far more acutely than my elbow skin, I wonder if it has anything to do with how many times a person skins their elbows, or knees for that matter, as a kid. I would hazard the guess that the concentration of pain and pressure receptors on my elbow is less than my forearm, YMMV

Straighten your arm. Feel your elbow. The skin at the elbow is relatively loose and easy to pinch and move.

Bend your elbow to ninety degrees. The skin at the elobow is tighter and harder to pinch.

Like Qadgop, I see many painful elbow injuries. It hurts to cut your elbow, and a dislocated elbow is extremely painful.

But if pain is a signal that something is wrong, it is easy for me to believe that there would be little benefit for you to feel discomfort whenever you bend you elbow. I’d be willing to believe that the receptors at the elbow are fewer than at many other parts of the arm. But “you won’t feel a thing”? C’mon.

I’m with the other medicos. Having driven my left elbow through the driver’s side window of a van, I have personal, as well as, professional experience that the elbow is NOT a pain free zone.

What might be decreasing your pain sense on your elbow, may be dry skin. You may need to exfoliate the area for full feeling to return.

I don’t get it :confused: The skin elsewhere on my arm is as sensitive, to a fork or a pinch (discreetly tested just seconds ago) what fact is on trial here?

I agree, I cannot use my own body or even poking the outstretched skin with scissors to cause enough pain to make me stop.

If I nip, twist or scissor poke else where I can make it hurt.

Dunno why tho.

I can pinch my elbow skin with all my strength, with no pain whatsoever.

Ouch! That hurt. You lied to me!

Let’s check it out. Let’s see who, in addition to the few who have weighed in here, can or cannot feel a pinch in that place. Note - a lot of people say they’ve injured their elbows. Yes, we all have. That’s not the point. The point - and I’m modifying JUST slightly - is that if you grab a certain amount of loose elbow skin and pinch - you won’t feel anything. But, here’s my deal - I think we need to describe very well what we mean by grab and pinch. My definition: When I look at the pinch from the side, I’m grabbing enough skin to come down to about the bottom of my thumbnail. I don’t pinch with the tip of my finger and the tip of my thumb, but rather press both “sides” of that flap of skin together with thumb and forefinger. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Now, it may be that some people have it and some don’t - but I’d find that fascinating if it were true.
And, of course, if I pinch with just the tips of the finger and thumb, or use my nails, it will hurth plenty.
Grassroots science. Whoo hoo.