May 19, 2024

Physical Exams: What to expect

Physical exams are a composite of routine tests that allow for timely diagnosis of any problem in the body. Many diseases do not show any symptoms in the initial phases, and by the time they become apparent, damage cannot always be controlled. 

Moreover, some people are also in the habit of ignoring health issues. They are not neglectful per se, but being lay people, they are unable to realize how an innocuous symptom can also be a harbinger of chronic illness. 

Also, not only do these exams allow for screening, but they also enable disease prevention as well. Many borderline cases, like pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension, can be diagnosed this way. Hence, patients can be saved from chronic conditions. 

Therefore, a detailed annual exam, especially for people over the age of 50 is extremely beneficial. Ultimately, your family doctor in Lahore is the best judge of which tests to be done, and their frequency, as some people have a high risk of disease due to family history. 

Different types of exams

A detailed physical exam is a thorough checkup of all the major organs in the body. Following are commonly conducted tests:


Patient history plays a crucial role in the health analysis. It includes family history, changes in life, any new disease development, allergies etc. It helps the doctor get an educated idea of your health, and any risk factors. It also enables doctor in better disease diagnosis. 

Laboratory Work

Doctors also need pathology tests to diagnose certain diseases. Most often, blood is drawn to run CBC (complete blood count) test alongside screening blood for any diseases, like kidney or liver disease. 

Cholesterol, diabetes and thyroid screening tests are also generally recommended, as per patient history. Some are also advised bone density scans as well.

Neurological Exam 

This exam entails gauging the reflexes of the patients and testing their mental aptitude as well. Similarly, balance, coordination and muscular strength is also tested, as musculoskeletal system has a close link with the neurological health. 

Physical Exam 

This exam includes looking for the issues of ear, nose and throat. Doctor also listens to the heart and the lungs to find any anomalies. They also palpate different areas of the body, especially abdomen. Some doctors also examine genitals and rectum as well. 

Skin Exam

Conducted not just in patients with skin complaints, but skin exam is also done to screen for any suspicious growths that can be indicative of skin cancer. Doctor also makes note of the rashes, warts, moles, lesions or similar abnormal skin conditions.

Visual exam

Visual exam includes checking out the organs superficially to look for any outward manifestation of the disease, like tenderness. It is conducted generally for the head, eyes, chest, abdomen, hands etc. Moreover, to check for the issues in the nervous system, doctor also makes note of the walk and speech of the patient. 


Different vaccines are needed all throughout the life. Your doctor can guide you if you are in need of one. 

Vital Signs

Vital signs include checking the blood pressure and respiratory rate. These are often already part of the visit to the doctor. People with family history of hypertension etc. should be vigilant about keeping track of their stats. 

Moreover, due to the anatomical differences in men and women, certain tests are exclusive to the respective gender. Exams exclusive for women include:

Pelvic Exam:

Pelvic exam is a thorough visual and physical examination of the female reproductive organs, include vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Pelvic exam helps in the diagnosis of STDs, tumors and cysts. 

Pap smear is also generally conducted in pelvic exam. It helps screen for cervical cancer. Some doctors also examine rectum and any problems therein can also be diagnosed then. 

Breast Exam 

In this exam, doctor palpates the breasts and the adjacent area to look for any lumps and any breast abnormalities. 


Similar to breast exam, mammography is also done to screen for breast cancer and tumors. However, it’s a radiology test that requires you to visit a lab or screening facility. 

Similarly, exams exclusive for men include:

Digital rectal exam 

Doctors conduct this test to examine rectum and lower color. It helps in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer. DRE is also a part of screening test for prostate cancer, alongside prostate-specific antigen test. 

Digital rectal exam is also done in men with complaints pertaining to bowel movement, urination and ejaculation. 

Testicular exam 

In testicular exam, doctor examines the testicles for any lumps, change in size or any tenderness, which are indicative of health problems like testicular cancer. 

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm screening:

This test is done for in men aged 65-75, with history of smoking. Men should therefore consult their doctor in Karachi if they are in need of this test.