How many of these body parts beginning with the letter “M” are you familiar with? Tidbits invites you to “get physical” to test your knowledge.

The malleolus and the malleus might sound similar, but they’re in no way related. The malleolus is the bone that sticks out on either side of the ankle joint, providing stability to the joint. The bone on the inner side of the ankle is at the lower end of the tibia, while the one on the outer side is formed by the lower end of the fibula. The malleus is also a bone, but it’s located in the middle ear, and transmits sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This small bone is commonly referred to the “hammer,” due to its shape.

Also related to the ear, the mastoid is that bony protrusion located just behind the earlobes. This bump is connected to the middle ear and critical for hearing and balance, as well as acting as the attachment site for several muscles in the head and neck.

M” parts related to the jaw include the mandibula, the maxilla, and the masseter. The mandibula, or lower jawbone, is the face’s largest and strongest bone, providing support to the lower teeth and structure for the lower face. The mandible works closely with the maxilla, or upper jaw, in the chewing process and to assist with speech. The maxilla contains the upper teeth and helps form the roof of the mouth and the floor of the eye sockets and nasal cavity. It also helps you smile along with other facial expressions. The masseter is a muscle within the jaw, one of the strongest muscles in the body, and critical for biting and chewing food. It’s connected to the mandible and the cheekbone.

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In the chest, the mediastinum, as the central compartment of the chest cavity, holds the heart, lungs, esophagus, trachea, lymph nodes, and nerves. It’s located right in the middle of the chest between the lungs and is surrounded by the ribcage. The manubrium is also part of the chest, the uppermost part of the breastbone, or sternum, that flat bone located in the center of the chest. Several muscles and ligaments are attached to this handle-shaped portion of the sternum, which functions as the protector of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.   

• If you’ve torn your meniscus, you’ve damaged that C-shaped piece of cartilage found in the knee joint, and suffered one of the most common knee injuries. It occurs when the knee is forcefully twisted or rotated while bearing weight on the knee. Each knee has two menisco, which act as a cushion between the shinbone and the thighbone.

You many have heard of macular degeneration, but may not be aware of what the macula does. This tiny oval-shaped area (just 0.25 inch wide), is at the center of the eye’s retina at the back of the eyeball. Composed of photoreceptor cells, it’s responsible for translating light that enters the eye into a signal that the brain can understand. It enables vision for objects directly in front of you. When the macula begins to deteriorate, mostly after age 50, the eye can still take in light, but images that are straight ahead are blurry and without fine detail. Those with the condition maintain their peripheral vision, able to see things off to the sides. About 20 million Americans have macular degeneration, which can be brought on by family history, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, head injuries, infections, or a poor diet without essential nutrients.