Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll is set to miss next year's Six Nations after being ruled out for up to six months with a troublesome shoulder injury.
The Leinster centre, 32, will undergo surgery next week on a trapped nerve which is affecting his everyday life.
"The shoulder has become uncomfortable over the last eight months and has got progressively worse," said O'Driscoll.
"I need the operation for general life, not just from a rugby point of view."
He added: "I certainly see myself coming back from this and playing another season."
O'Driscoll, who earned the first of his 117 Ireland caps in 1999, said the trapped nerve started in his neck and ran down into his arm.
He has not played since the World Cup and now faces a battle to be fit before the end of the season.
The news will also come as a major blow to Heineken Cup holders Leinster, as O'Driscoll will be absent for their entire Pool Three qualifying series which begins when they travel to Montpellier on Saturday.
"I just couldn't go through another full season like this," said O'Driscoll.
"The time came to get some opinions on it and all the surgeons I saw were singing from the same hymn sheet. That gave me confidence that it did need doing.
"I've felt it during collisions, whether I've been in control of them or not.
"It hasn't been dangerous, but you go down because your arm doesn't work which means you're not much good to your team."
O'Driscoll is Ireland's record try scorer and in 2011, he broke the 78-year-old record set by Scotland's Ian Smith as the all-time Five/Six Nations top try scorer when he crossed for his 25th championship score.
He has been unlucky with injury, notably missing the majority of the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand after suffering a dislocated shoulder following a spear tackle by Tana Umaga.
"I have been out for six months before so I know how to cope with these things - it's about keeping myself active, fit and involved," he added.
"The danger of being away for six months is that you could be totally forgotten about but it gives me a chance to go away, re-focus and set more goals for the latter part of my career.
"I will just wait and see how the body feels but I believe I have plenty more to offer.
"Breaks like this can give you the incentive to play for a longer period than you anticipated."