Subclinical peroneal neuropathy affects ambulatory, community-dwelling adults and is associated with falling

Louis H. Poppler, Jenny Yu, Susan E. Mackinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Peroneal neuropathy with an overt foot drop is a known risk factor for falling. Subclinical peroneal neuropathy caused by compression at the fibular neck is subtler and does not have foot drop. A previous study found subclinical peroneal neuropathy in 31 percent of hospitalized patients. This was associated with having fallen. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of subclinical peroneal neuropathy in ambulatory adults and investigate if it is associated with falling. Methods: A cross-sectional study of 397 ambulatory adults presenting to outpatient clinics at a large academic hospital was conducted from 2016 to 2017. Patients were examined for dorsiflexion weakness and signs of localizing peroneal nerve compression to the fibular neck. Fall risk was assessed with the Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale and self-reported history of falling. Multivariate logistic regression was used to correlate subclinical peroneal neuropathy with fall risk and a history of falls. Results: The mean patient age was 54 ± 15 years and 248 patients (62 percent) were women. Thirteen patients (3.3 percent) were found to have subclinical peroneal neuropathy. After controlling for various factors known to increase fall risk, patients with subclinical peroneal neuropathy were 3.74 times (95 percent CI, 1.06 to 13.14) (p = 0.04) more likely to report having fallen multiple times in the past year than patients without subclinical peroneal neuropathy. Similarly, patients with subclinical peroneal neuropathy were 7.22 times (95 percent CI, 1.48 to 35.30) (p = 0.02) more likely to have an elevated fall risk on the Activities-Specific Balance Confidence fall risk scale. Conclusion: Subclinical peroneal neuropathy affects 3.3 percent of adult outpatients and may predispose them to falling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769E-778E
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


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