Ketorolac, also called Ketorolac tromethamine, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used for pain relief. It is typically administered following surgery, an accident or when another painful condition exists such as a migraine headache. This medication is non-narcotic and is not considered habit forming, but there are certain risks associated with using it. A ketorolac injection may be given to a hospitalized patient who is experiencing a fairly high level of pain, and is sometimes also prescribed for home use.
In the U.S., this drug has been marketed as Toradol® and as Acular®. Available as a tablet or in liquid form, Ketorolac is often combined with a narcotic pain reliever. This combination can provide greater pain relief when the drug by itself is not adequate. A ketorolac injection is typically the strongest form of the medication, and provides the quickest pain relief over the longest period of time.
As with other NSAIDs, a ketorolac injection has certain significant risks associated with it. This drug in particular is known to have possible serious side effects and should not be used for longer than five days for any one event. If pain relief is needed for longer periods, other drugs are typically recommended, and injections are discontinued. Increasing the dosage does not typically increase relief, but it significantly increases the risk of side effects to patients.
Certain groups of patients are thought to have increased risks when given a ketorolac injection. Those over the age of 65 in particular are usually more sensitive to the effects of this drug and may experience intestinal bleeding or swelling of the face or legs. Most side effects related to ketorolac are more pronounced in older people because it is thought to remain in their systems much longer than it does for younger patients. Patients of any age who are known to have ulcers or clotting problems are typically advised to observe extreme caution when using this medication.
Those with existing health conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease or heart problems should be sure to tell the doctor prior to being given a ketorolac injection. This is also true for people with systemic diseases such as diabetes and lupus. It is possible that the medicine may aggravate some of these conditions, with serious consequences. People with a history of alcohol abuse should also be sure their physician is aware of this to avoid the risk of complications.