In this blog post, you will learn a few key phrases that you can use to describe physical pain. If it’s not about your back, just switch the word selkä to jalka (leg or foot), käsi (hand or arm) or polvi (knee), for example!

How to describe back pain in Finnish


Mun selkää särkee. = My back is hurting/aching.

  • Note the partitive selkää! There’s no subject in this sentence, actually.

Vitsi että mun selkää särkee. = Oh boy, my back hurts/aches.

  • Vitsi means “joke”, but here its meaning is “oh boy”/”jeez” etc…

  • No subject in this sentence.

Mun selkää kolottaa. = My back aches/hurts.

  • Kolottaa is often used to describe a dull pain.

  • No subject in this sentence.

Mun selkä on niin kipeä! = My back is so sore!

Mulla on ollut vähän selkäkipuja. = I’ve been having some back pain.

  • You can also use kipu in the plural, like I did here!

  • In Finnish, vähän can mean “some”/”a little” OR “little”, so this sentence could also mean: I have been having little back pain, as in “not much at all”.


A couple of questions that could be “rhetorical”:

Mikähän mun selkää vaivaa? = I wonder what’s wrong with my back.

  • vaivata = to bother

  • In this sentence and in the one below, we do have a subject: mikä (or mikähän, to be precise).

Mikähän tähän selkäkipuun auttaisi? = I wonder what would ease this back pain.

Want to learn more about rhetorical questions in Finnish?

If you’d like to learn more about rhetorical questions, I have a lesson on “I wonder what” questions like these in one of my online courses available inside the Finking Cap Club.