During a physical examination, a health care provider checks 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, usually with a stethoscope)
- 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: History and Examination. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 6.
Last reviewed on: 2/2/2023
Reviewed by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.