Peripheral nerve impairment and recurrent falls among women: Results from the study of women’s health across the nation

Academic Article


  • Background: Falls and related injuries are important public health concerns yet underappreciated in early aging. This study examined the association of peripheral nerve impairment (PNI) with fall outcomes in early old aged women (60–72 years). Methods: Women (n = 1,725; mean age 65.1 ± 2.7 years) from the longitudinal cohort Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation completed a PNI questionnaire on presence, frequency, and severity of symptoms, and 10- and 1.4-g monofilament testing in 2016–2017. PNI was defined as four or more self-reported symptoms or monofilament insensitivity. Recurrent falls (two or more) and recurrent fall injuries (two or more falls with one or more injuries) in the previous 12 months were assessed via questionnaire. Poisson regression was used to generate risk ratios (RRs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the fall outcomes, adjusting for covariates. Results: Approximately 12.3% of participants reported two ore more falls, 7.6% reported recurrent falls with injury, and 15.8% reported four or more PNI symptoms. Women with recurrent falls were more likely to report four or more PNI symptoms compared to women without recurrent falls (32.1% vs 13.5%; p < .001). One quarter (25.6%) of participants had four or more PNI symptoms or monofilament insensitivity; after adjusting for covariates, women with either symptoms or insensitivity were more likely to report recurrent falls compared to women with neither (RR = 1.64; 95% CI: 1.24, 2.17). Conclusions: These findings suggest that PNI may identify those at high risk for falls, particularly among women during early late life. Neuropathy screening instruments such as symptom questionnaires or monofilament testing are easy to implement and may have utility for fall risk assessment.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 27637742
  • Author List

  • Ylitalo KR; Strotmeyer ES; Gabriel KP; Lange-Maia BS; Avis NE; Karvonen-Gutierrez CA
  • Start Page

  • 2020
  • End Page

  • 2027
  • Volume

  • 75
  • Issue

  • 10