HomeLaser Therapy BlogPhotobiomodulation Therapy Is Making A Name For Itself

Photobiomodulation Therapy Is Making A Name For Itself

You may have heard the terms “Cold Laser” or “Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)” before. In general, such terms refer to “treatment using irradiation with light of low power intensity so that the effects are a response to the light and not due to heat.”1 Many of the terms used to commonly describe this process do not ideally reflect the mechanisms of action involved. They also don’t adequately distinguish this type of therapy from the other laser-based therapies that rely on heating tissue to achieve an effect. This lack of clarity has led to significant confusion and a need for better nomenclature.

In September 2014, the North American Association for Light Therapy (NAALT) and the World Association for Laser Therapy (WALT) convened to discuss this issue, and as a result of their efforts, the term “Photobiomodulation Therapy” was added to the MeSH database. This term more accurately reflects the process and better distinguishes it “from the popular use of light-based devices for simple heating of tissues…or other applications of light energy that rely on thermal effects for all or part of their mechanism of action.”2

Photobiomodulation Therapy Definition

To learn more about the evolution of the term “Photobiomodulation Therapy”, please download this excerpt.

1. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Low-Level Light Therapy – MeSH – NCBI. 2016. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/?term=photobiomodulation. Accessed February 25, 2016.
2. Anders J, Lanzafame R, Arany P. Low-Level Light/Laser Therapy Versus Photobiomodulation Therapy. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2015;33(4):183-184. doi:10.1089/pho.2015.9848.


  • So, are your machines for Cold Laser Therapy, or Deep Tissue Therapy, or are these two terms to describe the same thing?

    • Hello Amanda – that is a great question! To give you a bit of background, “cold laser” is an older term that was used to describe Class 2 and 3 lasers that do not possess enough power to create heat on the skin. Class 4 lasers (such as LightForce) are technically not cold lasers. ALL therapy lasers are photobiomodulation lasers though, meaning that regardless of power, they all have the same goal of stimulating tissue with light. However, some do it better than others, and this link to a post comparing LEDs and LASERs will hopefully provide additional clarification: https://www.litecure.com/medical/2017/08/understanding-the-differences-between-led-and-laser-therapy/


    • LightForce therapeutic lasers are indicated for emitting energy in the infrared spectrum to provide topical heating for the purpose of elevating tissue temperature for temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain, muscle spasm, pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and promoting relaxation of the muscle tissue and to temporarily increase local blood circulation.
      The LightForce lasers emit energy in the near infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Studies have shown that a large percentage of the light is absorbed in the skin. However, the NIR light from LightForce lasers is able to penetrate to deeper structures. Please see:

      Anders JJ, Moges H, Wu X, Erbele ID, Alberico SL, Saidu EK, Smith JT, Pryor BA. In vitro and in vivo optimization of infrared laser treatment for injured peripheral nerves. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 2014; 46(1): 34-45. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22212

      Tumilty S, Mani R, Baxter GD. Photobiomodulation and eccentric exercise for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomized controlled trial. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016; 31(1):127-135. doi: 10.1007/s10103-015-1840-4

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