What is a physical exam for?

Updated: 9/14/2023
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14y ago

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A physical exam is used to evaluate health and to detect illness or disease.

A "physical" is often mandated for employment or for insurance purposes. As well, all persons should have a routine yearly physical.

Doctors typically check the following areas when doing a routine physical exam.

1. Vital Signs

2. Head

3. Ears

4. Eyes

5. Nose

6. Mouth and Pharynx

7. Neck

8. Posterior thorax-lung exam

9. Anterior thorax-lung exam

10. Cranial Nerves

11. Posterior thorax

12. Axillae

13. Cardiovascular

14. Abdomen

15. Upper extremity-MSK and Partial Neurological

16. Lower extremity

17. Neurological

18. Back and spine

If the appointment is to check a previous condition (such as high blood pressure), or to diagnose an acute condition (such as a cough), the list of areas to be checked will be focused to the problem.

All primary care physicians do routine physicals.

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