What is Ketorolac?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2020
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Ketorolac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that bears some resemblance to other medications like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Unlike these drugs, ketorolac or brand names like Toradol® are often not available as over the counter medicines. Due to serious side effects, this particular NSAID is usually prescription-only and tends to be employed for very short periods of time to treat pain, or in some cases, it is used as a nasal spray or in eye drop form for seasonal allergies. Most people would either receive an injection of Toradol® or get it in pill form, and it generally isn’t used for more than five days because this increases risk of side effects.

Like most NSAIDs, ketorolac can have serious side effects. It can cause gastrointestinal upset or bleeding, it may be damaging to the liver or kidneys, and in some cases, it poses risk for heart dysfunction. People who are advised not to take this drug include this with heart, liver or kidney impairment, anyone with gastrointestinal illnesses like Crohn’s disease, those who will drink alcohol during use, and anyone with any type of bleeding disorder or who is pregnant or breastfeeding.


This drug has a history of adverse interactions with a number of medications. People should not use this drug if they are using other NSAIDS, drugs like aspirin, or anti-clotting drugs like warfarin or Plavix®. Probenecid, which is often prescribed to treat gout, and pentoxifylline, which may treat circulation disorders, are also not advised if patients take Toradol®. Other medications may interact with the drug, and patients should be prepared to provide doctors with an exhaustive list of all over the counter or prescribed medicines and herbs they use, prior to accepting a new prescription.

For many healthy patients, short-term use of ketorolac is non-problematic, though it should be noted that some countries refuse to sell this medicine due to the high risk of side effects. Those countries that do approve its use recommend it for just a few days at a time, and usually for no more than five days, especially in its oral or injected form. Due to its limited use, most people may not be very familiar with this medicine, and might only encounter it if they need quick pain relief in an injectable form. Doctors’ offices may stock it to deal with painful injuries.

The basic side effects that are not harmful include gastrointestinal upset, which could have features like heartburn, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, gas, or vomiting. Some people experience a headache or will notice ringing in the ears from ketorolac. Others receiving this drug feel drowsy or dizzy after taking it. Unusual side effects that require immediate medical attention include vomiting blood, tarry stools, minimal urination, rash, allergic reaction, jaundice, stroke or heart attack symptoms, seizures, and muscle weakness.


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