Which nursing action is most appropriate to initially relieve pain related to a recent soft tissue injury?

  1. administer an over-the-counter (OTC) medication for pain
  2. apply heat
  3. massage the area
  4. apply ice pack
Number 4 is correct.
Rationale: Applying ice to a recent soft tissue injury will decrease blood flow and decrease swelling; it should be done first. Administration of an OTC medication is effective, yet it is not the most appropriate nursing action to be done initially. Heat will increase blood flow and swelling. Massage promotes blood flow and can increase swelling, causing further damage.