LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
What is NIR class 4 laser therapy?
A red/near infrared (NIR) frequency of light (~700-1000 nanometers) is applied via a class 4 laser to problem areas of the body at an appropriate dosage and power level. SImilar to Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT, aka cold laser therapy), this therapy is also referred to as photobiomodulation, whereby laser energy is absorbed by specific chromophores in the body:
|• Melanin in skin|
|• Cytochrome C oxidase (to promote cellular energy production);|
|• Hemoglobin (to enhance oxygen delivery to cells)|
|• Water (to improve circulation).|
The overall functional effects are improved cellular function, increased cell growth, and repair/production of enzymes, proteins, immunoglobulins and DNA/RNA. In contrast to LLLT, the higher wattage utilized in class 4 laser therapy also produces a mild photothermal effect, which aids vasodilation, muscle relaxation and nerve conduction.
Infrared Class 4 laser therapy produces biomodulating reactions that can very effectively:
• Reduce pain
• Reduce inflammation
• Enhance tissue healing (in hard and soft tissues, incl. muscles, ligaments, bones)
What defines a class 4 laser?
By definition a class 4 laser must be able to deliver power of at least ½ a watt (i.e. 500 milliwatts). Unfortunately this category does not distinguish between the different power levels required for cosmetic / hair-removal use, healing, surgical lasers or even military lasers (capable of shooting down a satellite!).
The Class 4 laser is more powerful than low level laser (or light) therapy (LLLT) devices. This extra power enables class 4 lasers to penetrate deeper into the body to reach muscles, and areas such as spine and hip. In contrast to high powered lasers, LLLT does not produce a photothermal effect, which can damage tissue. The typical power level employed in class 4 lasers used for healing is around 5-8 watts, compared to 1mW- 1 watt for LLLT.
- Minimum power requirement of LLLT class 3a, 3b lasers:
• Class 3a lasers require a minimum 5 milliwatts
• Class 3b lasers range from 5 - 500 milliwatts
Most common class 4 therapy uses a gallium-aluminum-arsenide (GaAlA) semiconductor diode to produce an infrared laser beam. A diode may produce either a continuous wave or pulsed frequencies of 2-10,000 Hz. Infrared beams are carried by a fiber optic cable and naturally diffuse (not focussed) to a 10-12° angle to produce beam diameter sizes of 10-25mm (this produces a spot treatment area of 0.8 - 5cm2). Power densities are typically in the 0.4 - 3 W/cm2 range. Primary inteactions with tissue reach a depth of ~4 centimeters; secondary and tertiary photon effects on tissue and body systems are seen at greater depths. Pulsed frequencies typically have a 50% duty cycle (meaning the pulse is active half the time between pulses).
Infrared class 4 lasers were FDA-approved in 2005 as medical therapy devices (class 3 lasers were FDA-approved in 2002):
• However, the FDA consider them only as an infrared heating lamp. The FDA does not recognize the bio-stimulatory effects of the laser; interestingly, Europe has been researching and recognizing the benefits of using lasers for therapy for over 3 decades;
• Infrared class 4 lasers are prescription medical devices available for sale and use only to health professionals. These are then trained by the manufacturer in their use. The U.S. has many class 4 laser therapy providers across the country. Treatment cost (~$50 -75 / treatment) is not usually covered by insurance.
|Some class 4 lasers|
|Brand||Specs. (CW=continuous wave)||Cost|
K-laser (still available,
but no longer produced).
K-800. 0.1 - 8 watts
K-1200. 0.1 - 12 watts
CUBE-4. 0.1 - 15.0 watts (CW) & 20 watts peak / av. 12 watts pulse
(K-laser rebranded in 2019)
P-4. 0.5-24 watts in continuous mode or 28 watts peak / av. 15
4 wavelengths (650nm, 810nm, 915nm and 980nm);
P-3. Up to 18 watts; 3 wavelengths (650nm, 810nm, 915nm),
H1. 15 watts; 3 wavelengths (650nm, 810nm, 915nm); 1-20,000Hz pulse;
Lenses: 50mm broadbeam, 25mm zoom
Cube 4 plus
(Made in Italy
4 wavelengths (660nm, 800nm, 905nm, 970 nm)
Intense Super Pulse (ISP) & CW
|EVOlaser||9 - 20 watts
Up to 4 Wavelengths
Pulse & CW
|Pilot Laser||9 watts
Pulse & CW
|Apollo Laser||.5 - 5 watt
|$5k and up|
Chronic low-level inflammation (CLII) involved in almost all health problems
"The medical kit of the future"
General electrotherapy health benefits. Used systemically and/or locally at specific problem areas of the body, its effective application has many benefits:
|Detoxification||Wellness / Healthy aging||Pain relief|
|Relief from insomnia||Immune system restoral||Anti-Inflammatory|
|Maximizes cellular energy production||Accelerated tissue /bone
|Muscle relaxation / rehabilitation||Increased blood oxygen
There are several reasonably affordable electrotherapy devices available for personal use. The following electrotherapies are those that have received a significant amount of positive feedback:
|Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy|
|Near Infrared (NIR) class 4 laser therapy|
Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) applies specific frequency patterns to the head area, with the following benefits:
|Balances neurotransmitters||Relieves pain||Treats depression|
|Substance abuse withdrawal||Relieves insomnia||Relieve stress / anxiety|