Physical Exams

What is a physical exam?

A physical exam is an essential part of most office visits. The annual exam tends to be more comprehensive, though, as the doctor assesses the patient’s overall health and looks for potential warning signs. The exam will start with a discussion of each patient’s medical history and current lifestyle. It just takes a few minutes to update all the information to make sure it’s current.

During this time, the doctor also talks to you about any concerns you might have about your health or personal habits. It’s a great time to ask questions, too.

The next step is examining vital signs, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Respiration rate
  • Temperature
  • Heart rate

The doctor will do a cursory exam based on appearance, such as noted skin color. The visit will include a series of mini-exams, as well, such as:

  • Heart exam
  • Lung exam
  • Head and neck exam
  • Abdominal exam
  • Neurological exam
  • Dermatologic exam
  • Extremities exam

There will be different aspects of the exam based on gender, too.

What happens during a male physical?

The annual physical exam for a man will include gender-specific elements such as a testicular check, looking for tenderness or lumps. The doctor will conduct a hernia test, as well, to ensure the abdominal wall behind the scrotum is secure. A prostate exam is also necessary to rule out enlargement or cancer.

What happens during a female physical?

As with the males, there are gender-specific issues for women. A comprehensive women’s exam will include:

  • Breasts
  • Pelvic to rule out cancer of the cervix, vagina, and ovaries
  • Pap test ( For patients without a Gynecologist)
  • HPV test

The doctor will also assess the patient’s risk for certain cancers based on lifestyle and family history. He may recommend additional screening tests like a mammogram, as well.

Is blood work done?

It will depend on a number of things, but it’s not uncommon for the doctor to order certain lab tests based on physical findings such as:

  • Complete blood count
  • Chemistry panel
  • Urinalysis

It’s recommended that all patients have a lipid panel done every four to six years to screen for factors that put them at risk for heart disease. If a patient is overweight, the doctor may also order tests to rule out diabetes like the A1C blood test.