TMJ syndrome is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joints on each side of the face. It is still not clear what brings about this condition. So far, the closest explanation is that their musculature of the jaw might not be in line. There may be another issue with the joint that causes such symptoms to show up. There have also been cases that show the grinding of teeth to be the cause. A lot needs to be discovered about it still.
You can in the meantime detect its presence through some simpler symptoms. If you notice pain in the TMJ areas, or pain when you chew or talk, trouble chewing, and swelling near the joints, you most likely have the TMJ syndrome. There are also the toothaches, headaches, and earaches that will not go away. You will also feel these symptoms when it is other conditions. The upside is that you only need pain medication to fix them.
Treating TMJ is a tricky affair. What some doctors do is to try and eliminate each symptom as they go. The most common starting point is usually advising you to get some pain and swelling medication. There is also the hot and cold compress for you to think of.
If the pain relief is not effective, the dental specialist will look into stronger medication for you. They may get you some muscle relaxants for the tension in the joint area. This shall also relieve the lower clenching in the TMJ area. There are choices you can make at this point if medication is not for you. They may for instance give you a mouth guard to help prevent grinding of teeth as you sleep. If you are awake, you can take care of this grinding by yourself. But as you sleep, it becomes harder to do so. You will then not notice your jaws grinding involuntarily at that point. This is why you need to have the mouth guard.
If by this point none of these methods has brought you any salvation, you will have to start thinking of surgery. This is what they have to do for most of the extreme cases of TMJ. There has to be a lot of thought put into this final option. You only rely on the pain and discomfort to tell you of how much this syndrome has gone into your system. The best the doctors can do is to find a way for you not to be in pain any more.
There is ongoing research into the TMJ syndrome and its causes. You can help in this efforts by clearly explaining what it is you are going through. This shall help in knowing how best to approach it and get it fixed. You should also not delay with telling them how you feel.