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Grierson-Gopalan syndrome

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Consists of severe burning and aching of the feet, hyperaesthesia, pain, elevated skin temperature, and vasomotor changes of the feet, associated with excessive sweating and general body wasting. Ocular complications may include scotoma and amblyopia. Prevalent in women; onset between 20 and 40 years of age. Frequently observed in the Indian regions and in Africa.

Gopalan in 1946 described this condition which he observed, chiefly in females between the ages of 20 and 40 years, among the poor in South India. J. Page in the same year described observations made among male prisoners of war in the Far East, all of whom subsisted mainly on rice gruel and vegetables. Periodic outbreaks have been reported to have occurred in jails and in other segments of malnourished populations. The aetiology has not yet been determined. Deficiencies of vitamin B and proteins and possibly a toxic factor in old polished rice are considered as potential etiologic factors. Without treatment the condition is progressive and rapidly fatal.

The term "Burning feet" was first used in 1946 by the British physician J. Simpson for hunger dystrophic soldiers.


  • J. Grierson:
    On the burning feet of natives.
    Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta, 1826, 2: 275-280.
  • C. Gopalan:
    The "burning feet syndrome."
    Indian Medical Gazette, Calcutta, 1946, 81: 22-26. (Abst.) Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1946, 131: 1177.
  • J. Simpson:
    "Burning feet "in British prisoners-of-war in the Far East.
    Lancet, London, 1946, 1: 959-961.
  • J. Page, in:
    British Medical Journal, London, 1946, 2: 2260.

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