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What does a General Physical Exam Typically Include?

 

Although specifics of a physical will vary based on the reason for the physical, as well as the patient’s gender and age, most routine physicals typically check the functioning of the lungs, heart, head, neck, extremities, and skin. Other areas may also be included depending on the patient’s medical history.

An updated health history from the patient to determine any recent medical problems or new medications and/or supplements.


A check of vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.

A visual review of the patient’s appearance.


The physical exam, which includes listening to the heart and lungs, along with a visual check of the hair, nails, limbs, abdomen, neck, and head.


Bloodwork for lab tests may or may not be required, and would be additional, i.e.; blood count, blood chemistry, lipid panel, etc.

Diagnostic testing might or might not be required and would be additional i.e.; EKG, Chest X-Ray, etc.
Specific screenings based on age, gender or activity or employment.

Additional Requirements for Men May Include:

  • Cholesterol Test: Every five years for those over 35; or as young as 20 if there’s a family history of heart disease or diabetes.

  • Testicular Exam: A check of each testicle for lumps, tenderness, or changes in size.

  • Prostate Cancer Screening: Either a prostate specific antigen (PSA) or digital rectal exam.

Additional Requirements for Women May Include:

  • Cholesterol Test: Regular checks starting at age 45; or as early as 20 if there’s a genetic history of heart disease or diabetes.

  • Pelvic Exam: A check of the vagina, vulva, and cervix for signs of sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Breast Exam: A check for lumps or other signs of breast cancer.

  • Mammogram: This is not included but may be prescribed post-physical. Recommended every two years for those ages 50 to 74.

  • Osteoporosis Screening: This is not included but may be prescribed post-physical. Bone density scans starting at age 65.

Department of Transportation (DOT) Physicals