Toradol (ketorolac) and tramadol (e.g., Ultram) are two prescription medications approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to relieve pain. While tramadol is an opioid and, therefore, a controlled substance, Toradol is not currently scheduled as a potential drug of abuse by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency.) Although Toradol and tramadol are both used to treat pain, and their names sound similar, they work in very different ways.
Toradol is classified as an NSAID (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). It can help to reduce pain sensations and inflammation. Toradol’s action in the body is not entirely understood, but medical experts believe it works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins (lipid compounds) that can cause pain and inflammation.
Tramadol is classified as an opioid analgesic and is a Schedule IV controlled substance in the U.S., indicating it has a relatively low potential for abuse and dependence. Like Toradol, the way in which it works is not wholly understood but is believed to be by attaching to opioid receptors and inhibiting reuptake of norepinephrine (adrenaline) and serotonin, thereby reducing pain.
Key Differences Between Toradol and Tramadol
As noted, Toradol is a prescription NSAID drug. It is commonly available in generic form, ketorolac, and can be injected into a vein (IV) or muscle (IM) in clinical environments. It is also available in 10 mg tablets and as a nasal spray. A patient must have the IV or IM form before using the tablet form, and the total length of treatment should not exceed five days. This is done to limit the risk of severe side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and other issues.
Tramadol is the generic of Ultram. It is an opioid analgesic (painkiller). It is available as a tablet, both immediate and extended-release, as well as capsule form. It is also available as Ultracet, a prescription combination medication containing acetaminophen (generic Tylenol).
Conditions That Toradol and Tramadol Treat
Toradol is indicated for use in adults for the short-term management of moderate-severe acute pain, often in a post-op setting. Tramadol is indicated for use in adults with moderate-moderately severe pain that would benefit an opioid pain reliever when non-opioid alternatives are not sufficient or not well-tolerated.
Which Drug Is More Effective?
An Indian study compared Toradol to tramadol for post-op pain after maxillofacial surgery in fifty adults. Both drugs were administered via IM and resulted in a significant decrease in pain. Still, tramadol was associated with better pain management than Toradol at every hour and was better tolerated.
A Mexican study also examined the two drugs regarding post-op and compared oral Toradol to tramadol administered via IM. The study found Toradol to be better for relieving pain than tramadol.
Of note, although one study concluded tramadol was more effective and another that Toradol was the preferred means of pain relief, both were done in countries other than the U.S. where tramadol was administered by injection into the muscle. In the U.S., tramadol is typically prescribed as an oral tablet in an outpatient setting. Toradol can be administered via IV or IM by a healthcare professional and continued using oral tablets for up to five days.
Moreover, these results are not closely associated with the same administration routes and treatment approaches as those generally employed in the U.S. In general, it is believed that either drug can be very useful in treating pain, but other factors must also be considered.
A healthcare provider should determine which drug should be prescribed to any given individual. He or she can take into account the patient’s medical history and other medications used that have the potential to interact with each drug.
Common side effects of Toradol vs. tramadol
Toradol’s most common side effects are gastrointestinal (GI) in nature, including nausea, abdominal pain, and indigestion. Other adverse GI effects can occur, such as vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. Headaches may also occur with the use of Toradol.
The most common side effects of tramadol are headaches, nausea, constipation, dizziness, and drowsiness. This is not an exhaustive list of potential side effects. Although these side effects are not usually serious for either substance unless they are abused in excessive amounts or take too frequently, adverse complications can occur.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
While tramadol does have some relatively minor potential for dependence and addiction, Toradol does not. Those misusing tramadol are urged to undergo medical detox and long-term, intensive treatment for substance abuse.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer specialized programs in both partial hospitalization and residential formats. All of our comprehensive programs feature evidence-based services and enjoyable activities found to be beneficial for the recovery process. These include psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, art and music therapy, aftercare planning, and much more.