Intramuscular ketorolac injections in the athlete

Sports Health. 2012 Jul;4(4):319-27. doi: 10.1177/1941738112439686.


Background: Pain control is a factor in the sideline treatment of competitive athletes. Ketorolac injections by team physicians as a pain control measure are seemingly becoming more mainstream, although there have been very little data published on its use.

Hypothesis: Intramuscular ketorolac injections are being used regularly by orthopaedic surgeons and primary care sports medicine physicians in their care of athletes.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: A 19-question survey was generated online for physician members of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the Arthroscopy Association of North America, and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. The survey link was e-mailed, with reminders sent every 1 to 2 weeks, and results were collected from April to June 2011.

Results: The survey was e-mailed to 6950 physicians, with 1100 respondents completing it (60% orthopaedic surgeons, 40% nonsurgical sports medicine physicians). Approximately 49% use intramuscular ketorolac in the treatment of athletes, primarily at the collegiate and professional levels; 95.8% reported effective pain control after administration; 2.9% reported bleeding complications; and 1.9% reported kidney complications from its use.

Conclusion: Intramuscular ketorolac injections are used by approximately half of all team physicians in their sideline treatment of competitive athletes.