Ylitalo, K., W. Herman, and Sioban D. Harlow. 2013. "Performance-based Physical Functioning and Peripheral Neuropathy in a Population-based Cohort of Women at Midlife." American Journal of Epidemiology, 177(8): 810-817.
Peripheral neuropathy is underappreciated as a potential cause of functional limitations. In the present article, we assessed the cross-sectional association between peripheral neuropathy and physical functioning and how the longitudinal association between age and functioning differed by neuropathy status. Physical functioning was measured in 19962008 using timed performances on stair-climb, walking, sit-to-stand, and balance tests at the Michigan site of the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation, a population-based cohort study of women at midlife (n 396). Peripheral neuropathy was measured in 2008 and defined as having an abnormal monofilament test result or 4 or more symptoms. We used linear mixed models to determine whether trajectories of physical functioning differed by prevalent neuropathy status. Overall, 27.8 of the women had neuropathy. Stair-climb time differed by neuropathy status (P 0.04), and for every 1-year increase in age, women with neuropathy had a 1.82 (95 confidence interval: 1.42, 2.21) increase compared with a 0.95 (95 confidence interval: 0.71, 1.20) increase for women without neuropathy. Sit-to-stand time differed by neuropathy status (P 0.01), but the rate of change did not differ. No differences between neuropathy groups were observed for the walk test. For some performance-based tasks, poor functioning was maintained or exacerbated for women who had prevalent neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy may play a role in physical functioning limitations and future disability.