Tabes dorsalis is a neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. It is a late complication of untreated syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.
Tabes dorsalis typically develops years or even decades after the initial syphilis infection, and is characterized by damage to the nerves that carry sensory information from the lower limbs, trunk, and pelvic region to the brain.
The symptoms of tabes dorsalis can be progressive and disabling, and in some cases, can lead to paralysis or even death. Treatment typically involves long-term antibiotic therapy to treat the underlying syphilis infection, as well as medication to manage symptoms such as pain and incontinence. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be recommended to help patients maintain mobility and function
Prevention of tabes dorsalis and other complications of syphilis involves early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying infection. Regular testing for syphilis is recommended for individuals who are sexually active and at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Treatment with antibiotics can cure syphilis in its early stages and prevent the development of complications such as tabes dorsalis.