Crippling disorder awaits the cure


Despite significant research done on the 42-year-old Handigodu Syndrome, there is still no cure for it.


Handigodu syndrome, which is prevalent in Sagara taluk has crippled many a people over past 42 years. It has claimed a thousand lives and fresh cases are are on the rise.

Sagara a Taluk in Shimoga District, which is 415 kilometres from Bangalore, has a population of 2,06,319.

Rajendra, who is a resident of a village called Keladipura in Sagara Taluk started showing symptoms 20 years ago and now the condition is such that he can’t sit or walk properly. He complains, “The problem started with pain in my hip joint, after that, the pain started to spread in every joint, now, I can’t walk, stand or sit.”

When he was asked the cause behind the rare syndrome, he said, “I have no idea.” The lack of awareness of the cause is common among those afflicted by the Handigodu syndrome. There has been significant research by institutions like National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, Sanjay Gandhi of medical Sciences and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). However, none of them have been able to put their finger on the exact cause or cure for it.

Chandrashekhar Bhat, a social worker and Karnataka Rajyotsava award winner for Handigodu syndrome who works closely with the Handigodu patients, was the one who discovered the disease in 1974-75. He says a lot of people have come in and carried out research, but no solution has been found for it.

However, the government helps them by providing a financial aid of 1,200, painkillers and physiotherapy.

The syndrome is restricted to a few places in the world. Most of the Handigodu victims are from Sagara Taluk, followed by the neighbouring taluks. It is also present in some parts of Chikkamangaluru district.

The maximum number of cases of Handigodu are in Sagara taluk


A report by Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, stated, “Mseleni Joint Disease (MJD) and Handigodu Joint Disease (HJD) are familial skeletal disorders that affect several hundred persons in northern Zululand, South Africa and in the Shimoga district of Southern India. The clinical and radiological manifestations of MJD and HJD are very similar and it is possible that they represent the same entity.”

Dr. Vasudev, an orthopedic doctor in Sagara who deals with Handigodu patients explains, “It starts with pain in hip joints and results in acute swelling in knee and hip joints. It has three stages- in the first stage, the patients find it difficult to walk, then the mobility is affected to a large extent and in the last stage, the limbs of the patient are bent and crippled making the patient crawl.”

Even after 42 years since the discovery of the syndrome, the crippled victims are holding out hope for a cure.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *