The Ballymoney woman was part of a research team led by Professor Suzanne McDonough based at the School of Health Sciences at the University of Ulster.
They presented their findings to the prestigious North American Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine earlier this year.
The team found that small acupuncture needles in the ear are potentially a very cost effective and innovative approach that could be easily combined with other treatments such as exercise.
And that auricular acupuncture – the use of needles in the ear – also appears to have a wider good-health impact on patients.
Ruth who graduates with a doctorate in Physiotherapy from Ulster’s Jordanstown campus, said:
“The main findings from this study are that a combined approach – acupuncture and supervised exercise classes – improves the management of low back pain more than exercise classes alone.
“These results are very timely, given the recent publication of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
“NICE is recommending a course of acupuncture or supervised exercise classes (as tested in the Ulster trial) for people with low back pain. However, more work needs to be done on how these treatments might be combined in large scale studies in an NHS setting.”
“The participants reported that the programme had a range of psychological as well as physical benefits and the treatment had, for many, a huge impact on their quality of life.
”The preliminary research study, which is part of an ongoing research programme at Ulster, was funded by the Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland through its Research and Development Office.
Ruth is a physiotherapist who works at the University clinic and with Glentoran Football Club, Northern Ireland Netball and the Irish Football Association.
She will continue her studies in 2010 after securing a five year research fellowship.
For further information, please contact: