During a physical examination, a health care provider studies your body to determine if you do or do not have a physical problem.
A physical examination usually includes:
- Inspection (looking at the body)
- Palpation (feeling the body with fingers or hands)
- Auscultation (listening to sounds)
- Percussion (producing sounds, usually by tapping on specific areas of the body)
Simel DL. Approach to the patient: history and physical examination. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 6.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.