LJ's pain barrier
Lauren Jackson reacts as acupuncture needles are removed. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Lauren Jackson has spoken of her relief the cause of her hamstring problem has finally been diagnosed after fearing it could end her career.
The Opals star had scans with Canberra specialist Wes Cormick last Thursday, which uncovered the main reasons why the issue has plagued her for five months.
Her ''scary'' feelings of uncertainty and frustration have been replaced by pure joy, and she is now confident of a return to court with the Canberra Capitals in the New Year.
The main problem is a big tear in her adductor magnus muscle, which Jackson first injured during Olympic preparations in the Czech Republic in June.
A few microscopic strains were also detected, and Jackson is ecstatic she and her medical team now have clarity on what they're dealing with.
''I'm not about to say there weren't tears, there were definitely tears,'' Jackson said on Thursday.
''More than anything it was just frustration not knowing what it is, and that it could potentially end my career, [which] was something I had to deal with. I feel like finally I know exactly what it is, we all do and we know how to treat it.
''It's real relief. I'm with the best people and they know me well enough to know I was really scared, and now I'm not so scared any more.''
Jackson harboured serious concerns she may never return to her best, but now feels more assured her career longevity isn't in jeopardy.
''Absolutely [those thoughts entered my mind], a lot actually,'' Jackson said.
''I'm an athlete, it was scary. There was moments where I was like, 'shit'. You just have to focus on other things, so I did.
''My strength was coming back but the pain was still there. At that point we were talking about it … if I can't play I can't play. I had a lot of injections up to that point and nothing was making it better.
''For a moment there it was looking a little bit glum, because we had no idea what was going on.
''It was frustrating, too, because it's my career, I could only play 10 minutes and then I'd retire because I couldn't run.''
The 31-year-old was elated when her issue was pinpointed, but was also frustrated previous scans by several other doctors had not helped to discover the problem.
''I was frustrated we hadn't done those tests in a different position earlier,'' Jackson said.
''In terms of having to go through this for five months … it's five months of my career I cannot get back. But you know what, it's major relief knowing exactly what it is, and also for the future knowing it has to be investigated properly in every sense.''
Jackson has been doing daily rehabilitation with Australian Institute of Sport physiotherapist Tony Ward and his team, whom she trusts unconditionally. She believes if she wasn't in Australia, she probably would still be searching for answers.
''Looking back, it wasn't so bad. I was just fortunate I was here because if I was overseas there's no way I'd be able to come back from this,'' she said.
''There were Australian doctors, too, that had no clue that we'd been to prior to coming to the AIS.
''They didn't want to take these other investigations because they didn't think it was necessary. It just goes to show.
''In the back of my mind, too, these [AIS] guys kept persisting. They were like, 'we're going to get to the bottom of it and figure it out'.''
After her scans with Cormick, Jackson received multiple blood injections to reignite muscle growth and the healing process.
''That's helped a lot, I think,'' she said. ''The big tear, it bled out into my muscle and it's pinching my sciatic nerve, and at the moment that's where I'm getting most of my pain.''
Jackson endured a brutal schedule before arriving in Canberra for the first of a three-season, $1 million third-party deal.
She played gruelling stints in Spain and in the WNBA with Seattle, before carrying her injury through the Opals' Olympic campaign.
But she doesn't regret pushing herself through the Storm's play-off campaign before heading home.
''It's one of those things where you're in season with a team … I was in a lot of pain before that [the play-offs],'' she said.
''At the Olympics it was terrible, I'd miss practices and I'd miss games before the Olympics.
''I'd made commitments to those teams, but it got to the point where I couldn't walk, I couldn't get into bed without going, 'Oh my god, I've done something bad'.
''The teams I've been with have been really good, they know I've been hurt, but now I'm just really glad and happy it's been sorted.''
FRIDAY: West Coast Waves v Canberra Capitals at WA Basketball Centre, 10.30pm. Coverage: Streaming live on ABC Grandstand website.