It's been known that Austin suffered a serious injury when he was dropped on his head in a 1997 match with Owen Hart, who fell to his death in a stunt last summer in Kansas City.
In that match, the 240-pound Austin was nailed with a pile driver that was part of the match's script. But Austin landed wrong and his hands and legs went numb temporarily.
It apparently was an aggravation of a spinal injury dating back to his football days and early years of pro wrestling.
Hart said he knew something was wrong as soon as Austin landed.
Speaking in an archived interview aired last week on A&E's "Biography" series, Hart said Austin told him, "I can't feel my fingers."
But Austin quickly recovered and won the match.
A source close to Austin was quoted by the Post as saying, "Steve said he's got a relapse of the same injury."
Austin, who turns 35 next month, continued to wrestle after the Hart match, but the injury was giving him increasing discomfort.
He was scheduled to wrestle on a Nov. 14 pay-per-view event called "Survivor Series," but failed to do so.
Daily News' wrestling writer "Mad Dog" Tearson questioned in a column on Tuesday whether Austin will ever wrestle again.
Tearson said Austin was announced as having been injured in a car accident, but he looked healthy at the taping of the SmackDown event last week and the story was discounted.
Last Friday, Austin underwent a Mylogram, in which doctors injected an iodine-based dye into his spine.
The dye highlights any injury area. The results were not known. Dr. Joseph Torg, of Philadelphia, was Austin's doctor for the tests.
The Post quoted Jim Ross, a WWF senior vice president and TV announcer, as saying doctors think surgery could relieve the pressure on Austin's spine and he would have a "fighting chance" of resuming his ring career.
Even though the WWF matches are carefully scripted, things have gone tragically wrong in the past.
In addition to the death of Owen Hart, who fell during a stunt in which he was to be lowered into the ring from the ceiling, a number of wrestlers have suffered severe injuries.
In October, Darren "Droz" Drozdov, of Mays Landing, N.J., suffered a fractured neck after being slammed during a match against D'Lo Brown, and was paralyzed.
Last year, Buff Bagwell fell wrong and suffered spinal shock syndrome, and Davey Boy Smith got body-slammed and hurt his back. He almost died from an ensuing infection.
In 1997, Stevie Richards suffered a broken neck, and in 1996, "Nasty Boy" Jerry Saggs suffered a crushed vertebra when he was struck by a chair.
If Austin's ring career is over, it could be a big blow to the WWF. Austin was voted one of the most admired men on TV in a national survey of 10- to 17-year-old boys.
He also plays a detective on the CBS series "Nash Bridges."
The Texas-born Austin, who played football for the University of North Texas, began his pro wrestling career in 1990. He has two divorces behind him but was recently reported as engaged to the WWF's Debra McMichael.
WWF spokesman Jim Byrne said even if Austin isn't able to grapple anymore, he'll still be a big part of wresting.
Byrne said Austin is under a long-term contract to the WWF, "so in one form or another, he's going to continue entertaining all of our fans."