Overview

Toradol is a nonsteroidal non-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s not a narcotic.

Toradol (generic name: ketorolac) is not addictive, but it’s a very strong NSAID and can lead to serious side effects. You also shouldn’t take it for long periods of time.

Read on to learn the uses and dangers of Toradol and how to take it correctly.

What is a narcotic?

A narcotic is another name for an opioid, which is a drug made out of opium or a synthetic (lab-created/man-made) substitute for opium. These prescription-only medications help manage pain, suppress coughs, cure diarrhea, and help people sleep. There are also illegal narcotics, such as heroin.

Narcotics are very powerful drugs and highly addictive. They can cause serious problems, including nausea and vomiting, slowed physical activity, constipation, and slowed breathing. It’s possible to overdose on narcotics, and they can be deadly.

Therefore, narcotics are considered controlled substances. A controlled substance is a drug regulated by federal law. They’re put into “schedules” based on their medical use, potential for abuse, and safety. Narcotics for medical use are Schedule 2, which means they generally have a high potential for abuse that may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

What is Toradol?

Toradol is a prescription NSAID. NSAIDs are medications that decrease prostaglandins, substances in your body that cause inflammation. However, doctors aren’t exactly sure how this works. NSAIDs are used to decrease inflammation, swelling, fever, and pain.

Toradol is not made of opium (or a synthetic version of opium), so it’s not a narcotic. It’s also not addictive. Because Toradol isn’t addictive, it’s not regulated as a controlled substance.

However, Toradol is very powerful and is only used for short-term pain relief — five days or less. It comes in injections and tablets, or it can be given intravenously (by IV). It also comes as an intranasal solution that you spray in your nose. Toradol is often used after surgery, so you might get it in an injection or an IV first, then take it orally.

What is it used for?

Toradol is used for moderately severe pain that might otherwise require opioids. You shouldn’t use it for minor or chronic pain.

Your doctor might prescribe you Toradol after surgery. This is the most common use for this medication. If you get Toradol after surgery, your doctor will give you the first dose in an injection in your muscle or through an IV. Toradol might also be used in the emergency room for acute pain, including for sickle cell crises and other severe pain.

It’s also used off-label for migraine headaches.

Side effects and warnings

Toradol can lead to minor side effects similar to other NSAID side effects. These include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
  • nausea/vomiting
  • diarrhea

More serious side effects are also possible. Because Toradol is much more powerful than over-the-counter NSAIDs, serious side effects are more likely. These include:

  • Heart attack or stroke. You shouldn’t take Toradol if you’ve recently had a heart attack, stroke, or heart surgery.
  • Bleeding, especially in your stomach. Don’t take Toradol if you have ulcers or have any history of gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Ulcers or other problems in your intestines or stomach.
  • Kidney or liver disease.

Because of these potential side effects, you shouldn’t take Toradol with other NSAIDs (including aspirin) or if you take steroids or blood thinners. You also shouldn’t smoke or drink while taking Toradol.

Other painkillers

There are many types of painkillers other than Toradol available. Some are available over-the-counter, and some are only available from your doctor. Below are some common painkillers and their type.

Painkiller NameType
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)over-the-counter NSAID
Naproxen (Aleve)over-the-counter NSAID
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)over-the-counter pain reliever
Aspirinover-the-counter NSAID
Corticosteroidssteroid
Hydrocodone (Vicodin)opioid
Morphineopioid
Tramadolopioid
Oxycodone (OxyContin) opioid
Codeineopioid

The takeaway

Toradol isn’t a narcotic, but it can still have serious side effects. If your doctor prescribes Toradol for you, make sure you talk to them about the best way to take it, how long to take it, and what side-effect symptoms to watch for. When taken properly, Toradol can help you treat short-term moderate pain or moderately severe pain without the addiction potential of opioids.