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Learn Medical Spanish – Discussing Back Pain in Spanish

Learn Medical Spanish – Discussing Back Pain in Spanish

This free Medical Spanish lesson focuses on discussing back pain in Spanish: el dolor de espalda. In this lesson I teach on

  • common causes of back pain
  • anatomy of the back and areas that are commonly painful
  • pain descriptions in Spanish
  • common tests and procedures to assess back pain

Here is the Medical Spanish back pain lesson I taught to the Facebook group:

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Download Back Pain in Spanish Notes TODAY

This post includes tons of vocabulary related to back pain in Spanish, so if you want to review any specific vocabulary in Spanish, just click on these menu items:

Anatomía relevante / Relevant Anatomy

Let’s start with a quick review of the body parts related to the back pain and their names in Spanish 🙂

Spanish English
El coxis  The coccyx
El cuello (la nuca) The neck (nape)
El disco The disc
El muslo Thigh
El sacro The sacrum
La cintura The waist
La columna vertebral Spinal column
– Cervical  – Cervical
– Toráxica – Thoracic
– Lumbar


(el espinazo, la espina dorsal)

– Lumbar


(the spine, the spine)

La espalda The back
La ingle The groin
La médula espinal Spinal cord
La pelvis Pelvis
La vértebra The vertebra
Las piernas The legs
Los costados Sides
Los glúteos Buttocks
Los hombros Shoulders
Los ligamentos  The ligaments
Los músculos The muscles
Los nervios The nerves
Los riñones The kidneys

Signos y síntomas / Signs and Symptoms

Now you have mastered the basic anatomy, it’s time to learn and understand the most common signs and symptoms of back pain

Spanish English
Debilidad Weakness
Dolor: Pain:
– Intenso – Intense
– Muscular – Muscular
-Punzante -Stinging
– Que corre para abajo – That runs down
– Moderado – Moderate
Entumecimiento  Numbness
Fiebre Fever
Hormigueo Tingle
Movimiento limitado Limited movement
Nausea Nausea
Orina turbia Cloudy Urine

Causas comunes / Common Causes

This is a short list of the most common causes of back pain both in English and Spanish that you can use to talk through a diagnosis with your patient.

Spanish English
1. Disco herniado o roto: 1. Herniated or broken disk:
El disco es el cartílago entre las vértebras The disc is the cartilage between the vertebrae
Si se comprime, sale de su lugar o rompe,  causa mucho dolor e inhibe el movimiento  If it is compressed, goes out of place or breaks, it causes a lot of pain and inhibits movement
2. Esguinces y Distensiones: 2. Sprains and strains:
Un estiramiento excesivo o desgarro en el ligamento, tendón o músculo, puede ocurrir con levantar objetos pesados o torcerse de manera incorrecta Excessive stretching or tearing of the ligament, tendon or muscle can occur with lifting heavy objects or twisting incorrectly
Pueden causar espasmos en los músculos de la espalda y provocar dolor They can cause spasms in the muscles of the back and cause pain
3. Estenosis espinal: 3. Spinal stenosis:
El canal de una o más vértebras se estrecha y pone presión sobre la médula espinal y los nervios The canal of one or more vertebrae narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves
Causa dolor, entumecimiento y debilidad  It causes pain, numbness and weakness
4. La ciática y nervios comprimidos: 4. Sciatica and compressed nerves:
Los nervios de la médula espinal a veces se comprimen o se pellizcan Nerves in the spinal cord are sometimes compressed or pinched
Puede pasar después de un accidente, con ciertos movimientos, o por presión de un disco It can happen after an accident, with certain movements, or by pressure of a disc
Causa dolor que corre, hormigueo, entumecimiento y debilidad It causes running pain, tingling, numbness and weakness
5. Artritis: 5. Arthritis:
Una inflamación de las articulaciones en la espalda –  los espacios entre las vértebras An inflammation of the joints in the back – the spaces between the vertebrae
Esta inflamación provoca dolor y rigidez This inflammation causes pain and stiffness
6. Piedras renales:  6. Kidney stones:
Son cálculos que forman en el riñón y no pueden pasar por las vías urinarias They are stones that form in the kidney and can not pass through the urinary tract
Causan dolor lumbar, dolor al orinar, orina oscura y otros síntomas de infección They cause low back pain, painful urination, dark urine and other symptoms of infection
7. El embarazo: 7. Pregnancy:
Por el peso extra que lleva la mamá en el útero, los músculos de la espalda se esfuerzan más para mantener la postura Because of the extra weight that the mother carries in the uterus, the muscles of the back try harder to maintain the posture
Puede producir dolor, músculos adoloridos y rigidez May cause pain, sore muscles and stiffness

Download Back Pain in Spanish Notes TODAY

Exámenes y procedimientos / Tests and Procedures

Now you are able to provide a diagnosis, it’s time to talk about the tests and procedure they might need from now on

Spanish English
Para diagnosticar: To diagnose:
Examen físico  Physical exam
Tomografía computada (TAC) Computerized  tomography (CT)
Resonancia magnética (RM) Magnetic resonance (MR)
Radiografía (rayos equis) X-ray (X rays)

Sugerencias para ayudar y prevenir / Suggestions to Help and Prevent

Finally, you can make some suggestions to your patient to improve their lifestyle and avoid feeling pain in the future

Spanish English
Haga ejercicios de fortalecimiento y estiramiento: Do strengthening and stretching exercises:
Ejercicios que fortalecen y estiran los músculos de la espalda y el abdomen le dan mejor equilibrio  Exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles of the back and abdomen give better balance
Más fuerza y mejor equilibrio bajan el riesgo de lesionar la espalda More strength and better balance lower the risk of injuring the back
Preste atención a la postura: Pay attention to your posture / position:
Es importante pararse y sentarse con la espalda recta It is important to stand up and sit with your back straight
También si usa una computadora en el trabajo hay que asegurar que el monitor y el teclado estén en buena posición Also if you use a computer at work you must ensure that the monitor and keyboard are in good position
Levante objetos pesados con las piernas: Lift heavy objects with your legs:
Hay que doblar las rodillas y mantener la espalda recta cuando levanta objetos You have to bend your knees and keep your back straight when you lift objects
También es importante pedir ayuda cuando necesita mover objetos pesados It is also important to ask for help when you need to move heavy objects
Cambie los movimientos repetitivos: Change the repetitive movements:
Es bueno alternar actividad exigente y actividad menos exigente  It is good to alternate demanding activity and less demanding activity
Y si puede usar equipos para levantar y mover objetos, mejor And if you can use equipment to lift and move objects, that’s even better

PD: Two Updates for you! / ¡Dos noticias!

1. Immersion Programs: this is the best way for you to gain comfort, confidence, and fluidity in your expression in Spanish. If interested, check our Medical Immersion Programs.

2. Medical Spanish Verbs in Past Tenses: Beta testers are working hard on this course revision so it will be ready soon! 🙂

Now is your turn! ¡Ahora te toca a ti!

Study this back pain in Spanish vocabulary here with these flashcards

Download the lesson notes and start creating your own questions and phrases using this new vocabulary in Spanish and share it on the comments below or in our Facebook group to receive feedback from other Medical Spanish learners 🙂

I packaged all of this into easily downloadable .pdf notes– Get your copy for free today!

Download Back Pain in Spanish Notes TODAY

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

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Rory Foster
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Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
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