The Difference Between Pediatric Physicals And Well-Child Visits

Do you think alligators and crocodiles are the same? How about jam and jelly, or concrete and cement? These are examples of things that are similar but not the same. It is a roundabout way to get to our topic: the difference between pediatric physicals and well child visits. Both are necessary, somewhat similar, but NOT the same.

What Is The Main Difference?

We would guess that most parents are not really sure of the difference. The main difference between the two is the well child visit always includes a pediatric physical, but is more inclusive.

What they have in common is they should be done periodically and consistently, and they both are preventative measures so your child remains healthy.

pediatrician checking boys knee during physical exam

The Stand Alone Physical

This type of exam is usually done at the start of a new school year or if your child is intending to play sports. It covers the basics like checking height, weight, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.  Dr. Nardine Assaad will check for growth and development and if there are any problems before they participate in sports. It will probably include a check of your child’s heart and lungs along with their musculoskeletal system. It is a simple and forthright examination.

Continuity of Care Exam

The well child visit is more of a “continuity of care” exam. Physicians want to prevent fragmented care where issues can be missed or overlooked.

These well child visits have several purposes:

  • To prevent illness
  • To promote a child’s well being
  • Keeping parents informed of their child’s development

In addition to the physical exam, children who are school age between 6 and 12 will most likely have their vision and hearing screened, their spinal health will be checked, and social interaction will be discussed.

Kids who are 13 through 17 will have some additional subjects covered. These can include nutrition, physical activity, signs of anxiety or depression, difficulties with puberty, acne issues, smoking, drugs and alcohol problems, and pre-menstrual issues.

The goal of these visits is to prevent anything from getting out of hand. Issues including eating disorders, self harming behaviors, and untreated heavy menstrual flow could all be prevented and handled with regular well visits. Sadly, as kids get older these well child visits decrease or become non-existent, unless they are sick.

It is essential these annual visits continue. When a teenager trusts their caregiver, they are more likely to discuss issues bothering them. Detecting problems early can prevent years of unhappiness or health problems.

Contact Towson Pediatrics in Towson at (410) 769-8801 or Fallston at (443) 981-3337 to schedule your child’s next well visit today!