What is Physical Exam and Why is It Useful

In a physical exam, a physician or other medical professional examines a person for any physical signs or symptoms of an illness. The physical exam is used to help diagnose the underlying medical cause of a particular disease or condition if there is one. This test is often referred to as a physical examination or a routine physical checkup. It is usually performed in a doctor’s office or hospital and typically takes no more than 20 minutes.

Two types of physical exams

There are two types of physical exams that are typically performed during an evaluation: palpitation and interobserver variability. Perceptibility exams are usually done using eyelid osmotic pressure and BVM or BiPAP. These tests help doctors determine whether the patient has excessive pressure within the eyelid or abnormal breath sounds. Interobserver variability tests are usually done using high-definition video imaging.

During the physical exam, the health care provider will place the patient in a variety of positions, sometimes lying down. The patient may be asked to rotate at various angles to test the range of motion of the limbs. The examiner may ask questions about medical history and current medications if they are known.

Some people have concerns about going through physical examinations. Some people may worry that they will not be able to feel their bodies or that they will not be able to remain seated for the amount of time needed during the examination. Such concerns are normal, especially for people who have been sitting for hours or who have respiratory problems or other conditions that make it difficult to stand up or to sit for long periods. People who have concerns about the length of time they will be sitting on the exam stool should discuss the issue with their primary care physician. Their physician can offer information about the length of time needed for certain types of examinations.

During the physical exam, a doctor may ask the patient to provide written reports or to sign a document that will be used by the doctor to evaluate the physical exam. The patient may also be asked to provide a blood sample or urine sample. The samples are collected as the patient is sitting on a table. The samples are then sent to a laboratory for evaluation.

Used to determine some conditions

During a physical examination, the doctor will look for signs of disease or illness in the various systems of the body. These tests are called primary components. The most common tests conducted during a primary component are laboratory tests, x-rays, and blood analysis (a test of blood and serum chemistry). Doctors sometimes conduct further tests based on results from these primary components. These additional tests are referred to as secondary components.

Used to rule out some conditions

A physical exam is usually used to rule out the presence of a serious medical condition such as diabetes or pancreatitis. A false-negative result can potentially cause a patient unnecessary pain and suffering. As with any medical procedure, the results of the physical exam cannot be considered as proof of a person’s condition. A p is may also be necessary if a person has been diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition or if he or she is at increased risk of developing a new medical condition down the road. In this case, the patient would again need to submit to an evaluation.


A physical examination is not considered a substitute for a normal annual visit with your primary care provider. It is just one more process that you must pass. If you feel that you do not have all of the necessary information to perform the task properly, it is best to contact your primary care provider. However, if you are able to perform the physical exam correctly, then you should still have your physician’s phone number and schedule available. Performing your own health screening can be beneficial if there are certain concerns that you are concerned about and you are able to discuss them with your doctor.