What is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy is a medical treatment that uses focused light to stimulate a process called photobiomodulation, or PBM. During PBM, photons enter the tissue and interact with the cytochrome c complex within mitochondria. This interaction triggers a biological cascade of events that leads to an increase in cellular metabolism, decrease in pain, reduction in muscle spasm, and improved microcirculation to injured tissue. This treatment is a non-invasive and non-pharmacological alternative for pain relief.
Class IIIb vs Class IV Therapy Laser?
Effective laser therapy administration is a direct function of power and time as it relates to the dose delivered. Administering the optimal treatment dose to patients produces consistent positive outcomes. Class IV therapy lasers provide more energy to deep structures in less time. This ultimately assists in providing an energy dose that results in positive, reproducible outcomes. Higher wattage also results in faster treatment times and provides changes in pain complaints that are unachievable with low power lasers. LightForce® lasers provide a level of versatility unrivaled by other Class I, II, and IIIb lasers due to their ability to treat both superficial and deep tissue conditions.
Treat with Confidence
- Neck Pain8
- Shoulder Pain9,10,11
- Elbow & Joint Pain12
- Low Back Pain14,15
- Sports Injuries19,20
- Soft Tissue Damage21
- Plantar Fasciitis22,23
Laser therapy, or photobiomodulation, is the process of photons entering the tissue and interacting with the cytochrome c complex within the cell mitochondria. The result of this interaction, and the point of conducting laser therapy treatments, is the biological cascade of events that leads to an increase in cellular metabolism (promoting tissue healing) and a decrease in pain. Laser therapy is used to treat acute and chronic conditions as well as post-activity recovery. It is also used as another option to prescription drugs, a tool to prolong the need for some surgeries, as well as pre and post-surgery treatment to help control pain.
Laser therapy treatments must be administered directly to skin, as laser light cannot penetrate through layers of clothing. You will feel a soothing warmth as the therapy is administered. Many patients receiving LightForce® Therapy Laser treatments report enjoying the experience, especially when a massage-ball treatment head is used to deliver what is often referred to as a “laser massage.” Patients receiving treatments with higher-power lasers also frequently report a rapid decrease in pain. For someone suffering from chronic pain, this effect can be particularly pronounced. Laser therapy for pain can be a viable treatment.
Class IV laser therapy (now called photobiomodulation) devices were cleared in 2004 by the FDA for the safe and efficacious reduction of pain and increasing micro-circulation. Therapy lasers are safe and effective treatment options to reduce musculoskeletal pain due to injury. The biggest risk to injury during laser therapy treatments is to the eye, which is why certified, protective eyewear is always required during LightForce® treatments.
With LightForce® lasers, treatments are quick usually 3-10 minutes depending on the size, depth, and acuteness of the condition being treated. High-power lasers are able to deliver a lot of energy in a small amount of time, allowing therapeutic dosages to be achieved quickly. For patients and clinicians with packed schedules, fast and effective treatments are a must.
The nature of the condition and the patient’s response to the treatments will play a key role in determining how many treatments will be needed. Most laser therapy plans of care will involve 6-12 treatments, with more treatment needed for longer standing, chronic conditions. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan that is optimal for your condition.
Patients often report improved sensation, including a therapeutic warmth and some analgesia immediately after the treatment. For noticeable changes in symptoms and condition, patients should undergo a series of treatments as the benefits of laser therapy from one treatment to the next are cumulative.
Laser therapy will not limit a patient’s activities. The nature of a specific pathology and the current stage within the healing process will dictate appropriate activity levels. Laser will often reduce pain which will make it easier to perform different activities and will often help restore more normal joint mechanics. That being said, reduced pain should not overshadow the advice of a medical professional that understands how the laser will fit into a rehabilitation protocol when deciding how aggressively to push functional limits.
“Laser therapy is beneficial in treatment of neck pain.” - WHO
“Clinicians should consider the use of low-level laser therapy to decrease pain and stiffness in patients with Achilles tendinopathy.” - APTA
“Laser therapy shows strong evidence of effectiveness for pain relief.” - IASP
- 1. Abbasgholizadeh ZS, Evren B, Ozkan Y. Evaluation of the efficacy of different treatment modalities for painful temporomandibular disorders. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2020 May;49(5):628-635.
- 2. Khairnar S, Bhate K, S N SK, Kshirsagar K, Jagtap B, Kakodkar P. Comparative evaluation of low-level laser therapy and ultrasound heat therapy in reducing temporomandibular joint disorder pain. J Dent Anesth Pain Med. 2019 Oct;19(5):289-294.
- 3. Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins RA, Bjordal JM. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials. Lancet. 2009 Dec 5;374(9705):1897-908.
- 4. Santamato A, Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Tondi G, Frisardi V, Leggin BG, Ranieri M, Fiore P. Short-term effects of high-intensity laser therapy versus ultrasound therapy in the treatment of people with subacromial impingement syndrome: a randomized clinical trial. Phys Ther. 2009 Jul;89(7):643-52.
- 5. Kim SH, Kim YH, Lee HR, Choi YE. Short-term effects of high-intensity laser therapy on frozen shoulder: A prospective randomized control study. Man Ther. 2015 Dec;20(6):751-7.
- 6. Awotidebe AW, Inglis-Jassiem G, Young T. Low-level laser therapy and exercise for patients with shoulder disorders in physiotherapy practice (a systematic review protocol). Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 30;4:60.
- 7. Panton L, Simonavice E, Williams K, Mojock C, Kim JS, Kingsley JD, McMillan V, Mathis R. Effects of Class IV laser therapy on fibromyalgia impact and function in women with fibromyalgia. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 May;19(5):445-52.
- 8. Roberts DB, Kruse RJ, Stoll SF. The effectiveness of therapeutic class IV (10 W) laser treatment for epicondylitis. Lasers Surg Med. 2013 Jul;45(5):311-7.
- 9. Alayat MS, Atya AM, Ali MM, Shosha TM. Long-term effect of high-intensity laser therapy in the treatment of patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized blinded placebo-controlled trial. Lasers Med Sci. 2014 May;29(3):1065-73.
- 10. Yousefi-Nooraie R, Schonstein E, Heidari K, Rashidian A, Pennick V, Akbari-Kamrani M, Irani S, Shakiba B, Mortaz Hejri SA, Mortaz Hejri SO, Jonaidi A. Low level laser therapy for nonspecific low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD005107.
- 11. Holanda VM, Chavantes MC, Silva DF, de Holanda CV, de Oliveira JO Jr, Wu X, Anders JJ. Photobiomodulation of the dorsal root ganglion for the treatment of low back pain: A pilot study. Lasers Surg Med. 2016 Sep;48(7):653-9.
- 12. Jovicić M, Konstantinović L, Lazović M, Jovicić V. Clinical and functional evaluation of patients with acute low back pain and radiculopathy treated with different energy doses of low level laser therapy. Vojnosanit Pregl. 2012 Aug;69(8):656-62.
- 13. Dima R, Tieppo Francio V, Towery C, Davani S. Review of Literature on Low-level Laser Therapy Benefits for Nonpharmacological Pain Control in Chronic Pain and Osteoarthritis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2018 Sep;24(5):8-10.
- 14. Alves AN, Fernandes KP, Deana AM, Bussadori SK, Mesquita-Ferrari RA. Effects of low-level laser therapy on skeletal muscle repair: a systematic review. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Dec;93(12):1073-85.
- 15. Dornelles MP, Fritsch CG, Sonda FC, Johnson DS, Leal-Junior ECP, Vaz MA, Baroni BM. Photobiomodulation therapy as a tool to prevent hamstring strain injuries by reducing soccer-induced fatigue on hamstring muscles. Lasers Med Sci. 2019 Aug;34(6):1177-1184.
- 16. Alves AN, Fernandes KP, Deana AM, Bussadori SK, Mesquita-Ferrari RA. Effects of low-level laser therapy on skeletal muscle repair: a systematic review. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Dec;93(12):1073-85.
- 17. Ordahan B, Karahan AY, Kaydok E. The effect of high-intensity versus low-level laser therapy in the management of plantar fasciitis: a randomized clinical trial. Lasers Med Sci. 2018 Aug;33(6):1363-1369.
- 18. Tiwari, Mukesh & Lamba, Dheeraj. (2014). Benefical effects of Low Level Laser Therapy in Musculoskeletal Disorders of Foot-Plantar Fasciitis, a Review. Indian Journal of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy - An International Journal. 8(1):70