Tabes dorsalis is a degenerative disease which results of demyelination of the nerves in the posterior part of the spinal cord and progress slowly.Seconder pathologic case causes non-treated syphilis infection.


Tabes dorsalis is seen most commonly in male than female. Most of the patients are adults ( 30-35 years ) in general. Especially , the HIV infection increases risk of tabes dorsalis.


  • Degeneration in the posterior ( dorsal ) part of the spinal cord.
  • Orthopedic pain ( patients who got tabes dorsalis neuropathy feel severe pain during walking and this painful foot is called the Charcot Foot.)
  • Weak reflexes. ( Loss of the patellar reflex is the one of the two most important criteria in the physical examination finding)
  • Agryll Robertson Pupil ( It refers to the pupil that does not respond to changes in light intensity and has lost its light reflex, although it shows narrowing in adaptation to nearby objects. )
  • Locomotor system attacks
  • Degenerated , unbalanced proprioceptive
  • Syphilis ( it is systemic disease that gets better if treated early. If it is not treated, serious complications may occur in the brain,nerve,eye and internal organs and may even lead to death.In addition , it is a disease that spread with sexually and if it is contaminated to person icreases the risk of AIDS. Another side of the disease is transmission from mother to baby.)


  • Weak muscle coordination
  • Reduced reflex or loss of reflex
  • Paresthesia
  • Hypoesthesia
  • Progressive degenerations in specific areas
  • Chancing in emotional situations
  • Dementia
  • Urinary incontinance
  • Visual disturbances
  • Deafness
  • Positive Romberg’s test ( As you can see in the below picture , The patient closes his/her eyes , the doctor/physiotherapist applies resistance at different strengths.These strengths are given to patients if they maintenance their balance with closed eyes. With this test , patients’ vestibuler,proprioception and cerebellar functions are controlled.)


  • Antibiotics
  • Analgesic applications
  • Protective measures in sexual life


  • Precautions and educations for sensory loss
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Strengthening balance exercises
  • Improve coordination
  • Mobilization exercises
  • Special information: Frenkel’s exercises are a guide that we will refer to in desired balance studies.


Muthuukaruppan M. , Tabes Dorsalis and Physiotherapy
Hook EW. Syphilis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. 

[i]Goldman-Cecil Medicine[/i]

. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 319.
National Institues of Health , Bethesda , MD 20892

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