Toradol for Pain Relief After Surgery

Woman with IV in hospital bed

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Toradol, also known as ketorolac, is a medication frequently used for pain relief after surgery. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which works to reduce pain by interfering with the body’s production of hormones that influence pain. This medication is in the same family of pain relievers as aspirin, ibuprofen, and some prescription medications such as Mobic. 

When Is Toradol Used?

Toradol is frequently used to treat pain after surgery and is available only by prescription. It is only appropriate for short term use, typically five days or less, so it is not used for the relief of chronic pain. Toradol is typically used when the patient is in the hospital, whether they are in the recovery room or staying overnight. This medication is not typically continued after the hospital stay, instead, medications are given that can be used safely on a longer basis.

Remember that pain relief will help you return to your normal activities faster, and when used appropriately, can reduce complications such as pneumonia during your recovery.

How Is Toradol Given?

While it can be given as a pill, a nasal spray, an injection into an IV or as an injection into a muscle. Toradol is usually given through an IV, this allows for pain relief to begin faster than with other types of administration and helps avoid common side effects such as heartburn and upset stomach.

Who Should Not Use Toradol?

  • Individuals who are allergic to other NSAIDs or who don’t tolerate them well should avoid Toradol. If you have ever been told that you should not use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) or prescription NSAIDs such as Mobic, Naprosyn or Voltaren, you should not use Toradol. 
  • Toradol is an NSAID. No other NSAIDs, such as Mobic, Naprosyn, Voltaren, Ibuprofen, Naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin should be taken while taking Toradol.
  • Individuals who have congestive heart failure, are at high risk for blood clots or bleeding, or have a history of heart attack or stroke should avoid using Toradol in most cases. 
  • Individuals who have stomach ulcers or similar conditions of the digestive tract, as Toradol can make them worse.
  • Individuals with chronic colon conditions such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease should avoid NSAIDs, including Toradol.
  • Toradol should never be combined with alcohol.
  • Breastfeeding women and women who are pregnant should not use Toradol unless the risks of use are dramatically outweighed by the benefits of this medication.
  • Individuals with renal insufficiency or other kidney problems should not use Toradol in most cases. Some patients with kidney problems may require a reduced dose of Toradol to prevent kidney injury.

What You Should Know About Toradol

It is easy to dismiss pain medications that are not narcotic based, believing that they won’t be as effective as well known pain medications such as morphine or Dilaudid, but many patients actually experience more pain relief with Toradol. This is likely due to the anti-inflammation action of Toradol, meaning that this medication does two things: reduces pain and reduces the inflammation that causes pain.  

Toradol is very similar to other pain-relieving medications. Do not take Toradol with other over the counter medications that contain NSAIDs, as you can easily take too much of this type of medication. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are in many over the counter medications, so before taking any medication in addition to Toradol you should read the label thoroughly.

Like all NSAIDs, Toradol can increase the risk of internal bleeding and can increase the risk of GI bleeding. If dark or tarry looking stools are seen they should be reported to the nurse or surgeon. It can also cause ringing in the ears that will typically go away when the NSAID is stopped.

Toradol should not be used for an extended period of time, most hospitals limit a patient to five days of Toradol.

A Word From Verywell

Toradol is a very effective medication for reducing inflammation and pain, but can only be used short term for acute pain. It is commonly used in the first few days after surgery while an inpatient, and then stopped for discharge home when Ibuprofen or other similar medications can be used. For patients who cannot have narcotic pain medications, Toradol can help with pain relief without the issues associated with narcotics.

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