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De-Classifying the Mystery of Class 4 Lasers

Class 4 laser is an FDA-approved modality used in the treatment of deep, chronically inflamed/painful injuries. Some of these conditions include tendinopathies, fascial, nerve, and even arthritic conditions.

But what makes class 4 lasers (laser therapy) unique?

Laser therapy utilizes a biological process called “photo-biomodulation."

This involves the application of red and near infra-red light over injured regions in order to improve wound and soft tissue healing, reduce inflammation as well as provide relief for acute and chronic pain. Photon (light) particles are charged and focused in order to penetrate affected tissue triggering a cascading effect to increase cellular metabolism. This subsequently decreases pain and inflammation in the injured area.

Laser therapy can be used for acute and chronic conditions.

Heavily researched and tested, laser therapy has proven effective in treating acute injuries particularly if treatment occurs immediately or within a short time frame, post-injury. The sooner the lasers are able to reduce inflammation of the affected area, the sooner the body’s healing process can begin. In treating chronic conditions, laser therapy is heavily favored in its use to alleviate persistent pain and inflammation.

Laser is non-invasive.

Depending on the laser applicator, treatment can consist of little to no sensation, or it can create a gentle soothing warmth. Many patients find the experience enjoyable and when receiving treatment with a high-powered laser (such as the class 4 laser available in our clinic) in addition to reporting an instantaneous decrease in pain and increased function.

Treatments are fast.

Laser treatments usually range between 5-15 minutes depending on the region affected, size, and acuteness of the condition. This results in many practitioners choosing to utilize this modality in their treatment plans due to its ease of use.

But what makes a “class 4 laser treatment so much better than a traditional laser treatment?

Class 4 lasers are about 30x more powerful than the typical cold or low-level laser treatment. Therefore, this laser is capable of penetrating and reaching tissues deeper, as well as provide an increased ability to promote healing when compared to class 3b (cold) laser applications.


Jonathan Tang,

Honors Kinesiology Co-op

Undergraduate, University of Waterloo

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