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)
Swartz MH, Swartz TH. The physical examination. In: Swartz MH, ed. Textbook of Physical Diagnosis. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 6.
Review Date 1/16/2021
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.