The road to a pain-free life

CHLOE Bulmer often has to explain to others the pain she feels is not a figment of her imagination.

The 19 year-old Latrobe Valley resident contracted Complex Regional Pain Syndrome after a laparoscopic procedure in August 2013.

The syndrome is a painful condition of the arm, hand, leg or foot, which can leave a burning pain that changes in intensity and often occurs after an injury.

“You get so many people telling you that it’s all in your head,” mother Kelly said.

Despite seeing different specialists and being offered multiple medications, Chloe had not responded to treatment until earlier this year.

She travelled to the United States for a bout of Calmare therapy, a non-invasive, non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical method of pain management not yet available in Australia.

It worked.

“By the fourth treatment, I could put my boots back on and the pain went from a 10 or above to about a three, which is a significant difference,” Chloe told The Express earlier this year.

“For me to see that was just mind-blowing.”

But three months after her initial round of therapy, Chloe was back on the couch after the pain returned.

The therapy is not a cure.

“I was back again on the couch with both legs and both arms immobile,” Chloe said.

“I was stuck on the couch and one morning, Dad had to feed me because I couldn’t move either arm or bend them.

“Again, I had to get carers in to help toilet me while Mum was at work and help get food.”

Chloe returned to the US in August for another round of treatment. She said the pain subsided from an eight out of ten to a six and eventually to a four.

“By the third treatment I was in no pain,” she said.

Now Chloe is back home and able to dance, drive and do “all the things that she should be doing at her age”, much to the joy of her mum.

She is hoping Calmare will become available in Australia one day, but in the meantime plans to return overseas once or twice a year.

It depends if and when her pain returns.

“I’m looking forward to a pain free summer,” she said.

Anyone with a similar condition and wishing to speak with Chloe can do so via email,

There is an awareness and support group in Australia, which aims to raise awareness and funds for research into Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

To find out more about The Purple Bucket Foundation, visit, or phone 0411 147 367.