The first record of a chiropractor working in Iran was Dr Bertha Berger in 1922. Famously, a Persian chiropractor, Sheik Pera Mar Elia, of Urmia was reported as working in Hollywood, California in the 1940s. Tragically, in 1962 Dr Elia was killed in a blast in Davenport, Iowa, while visiting Dr David Palmer.
Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the first modern chiropractic office was established by a graduate of Texas Chiropractic College, Dr Mohamed Jarad Beiraghdar. By 1989 there were reported to be 5 chiropractors working in Iran.
Chiropractic was practiced with unofficial approval due to favorable relations and meetings with senior government officials. However, the late 1980s and early 1990s became very difficult for chiropractors in Iran, with a major clampdown resulting in clinics being closed and equipment confiscated.
In 1991, a young graduate of Life West Chiropractic College, Dr Hossein Sabbagh, established a practice in Kermanshah. In 1994 he relocated his practice to Tehran. The Iranian Doctors of Chiropractic Association was formed and, largely as a consequence of government officials being chiropractic patients, the practice of chiropractic in Iran was briefly tolerated. However, at the time the Iran Ministry of Health insisted that only medical doctors could qualify as primary contact health practitioners.
In 1994, a conservative government again placed pressure on the chiropractic profession and in 1996 a decision was taken to eliminate chiropractic altogether. The authorities took a tough stance and clinic closures and equipment confiscations resumed.
Intervention by the then Deputy Minster of Education proved a turning point in the history of chiropractic in Iran. In 1998 a law was passed regulating the practice of chiropractic in Iran. By 2000 there were 9 chiropractors known to be practicing in Iran and in 2004 the Iranian Chiropractors Association (IrCA) was formed, with Dr Hossein Sabbagh as President and Dr Reza Jafari as Vice-President.
As a consequence of the legislation, chiropractors were licensed and officially became members of the Health Society and the Health Care System. Approximately 60 licenses were issues between 1998 and 2008. As well as president of IrCA, Dr Hossein Sabbagh has also served as a member of the 14-member Iranian Medical Council.
In 2010, Dr Reza Jafari was elected secretary of the EMMECF.
The official elections of IrCA were monitored by the Ministry of Health when they were held in 2013, with Dr Sabbagh being re-elected president.
In 2015, WFC Secretary-General Dr Richard Brown visited Iran and presented a lecture at Masshad Medical University as well as meeting with department of education officials.
Chiropractic legislation in Iran permits a wide scope of practice, including the right to diagnose, issue sick leave certificates, limited prescribing rights and the rights to refer for advanced diagnostic imaging. The negotiation of 5-year licenses for chiropractors (formerly 2-year licenses) closed the gap between chiropractors and medical practitioners.
There are currently around 70 licensed chiropractors in Iran.