Injury which has plagued Ricky Ponting since July could spell the end of his stellar reign as Australia's Test captain - should he not be able to curb the pain.
The 34-year-old captain sat out Australia's one-day series against Bangladesh in August/September, and required pain-killing injections during last month"s Indian tour as the injury threatened to impair his batting.
It's believed a screw - the remnant of previous surgery - is causing the damage, and should a solution not be found - Ponting could find himself relying on cortisone injections just to get through the day-to-day rigours of training and competition.
News Ltd reports suggest Ponting may need between eight and ten weeks rest to recover from the injury, and quote leading sports doctor, Dr Peter Larkins, who foresees long-term problems should action not be taken quickly.
"In theory it could have an effect on his longevity because of performance being affected, in terms of grip strength, mainly for his batting," Larkins told News Ltd.
"If he is in pain and distracted by that, and it's compromising his performances from a batsman's point of view, his form might drop away.
Lee rates Ponting's catch the most amazing!
He needs a proper recovery that I don't think was available to him.
"And I think he had a setback early in the recovery because he was playing and now he may need to consider revising what he had done, because of that, not because it wasn't done properly."
Ponting isn't expected to miss any of the upcoming series against South Africa, but he may be forced to play through the pain barrier with three demanding Tests scheduled over just three weeks.
There is no break on the horizon either, with a series in South Africa, the IPL competition and a tour of England in the immediate pipeline.