So sorry to hear about what you have been going through – especially at such a young age. I would like to share my experience on a few things so hopefully you won't go through what so many people on this site (including myself) have gone through, namely not getting to the right specialist and not getting the right treatment. Really hard to say if it’s TMJ or not, but the fact that your pain worsens after eating incates that the jaw is involved somehow.
In my opinion, the most important thing is to find the absolute best modern neuromuscular dentist in your state and get his/her opinion. One word of advice about this: we live in a society where most fields are now standardized and generally, to practice within that field, you have to be competent. This means that when we go to a specialist, we can assume they will recommend the best practices in their field. This is an assumption we make about our TMJ specialists but the field of TMJ has not been standardized yet. The field has yet to agree on best practices (in fact there’s serious disagreement!). There are these two very different camps (traditional and modern), but even within those two camps, specialists practice very, very differently. This makes the likelihood of getting the wrong treatment quite high and finding the right treatment for you much harder than you’d expect (or possibly than you even know!).
The point of my saying all this is that if you are really suffering from TMJD, or something like it, just going to the local specialist or the first person who comes recommended may not be helpful for you – in fact, it could wind up being harmful. See your city’s best headache specialist – ask to be on his cancellation list if they quote you a year’s wait. Travel to the most well-reputed modern neuromuscular dentist in your state or province and don't decide on a treatment until you do. Ask your parents or caregivers to do extensive research on who to see - don't rely on the local specialist. I have a suggestion to help you in this regard, but you'd need to PM me for me to give it to you.
For the time being, do everything you can to minimize your pain. Here are a few ideas...
1) There are many other treatment that can help. I saw an excellent naturopath/Dr. of Chinese Medicine (he's qualified for both). See someone well reputed. My whole system was really taxed, adrenals shot etc, and someone in this area can really help in a way that western doctors can't (they might just offer antidepressants!)
I tried a variety of physio, chiro and acupuncture but none of them helped until I found ones that actually specialized in TMJ/orofacial issues. Once I found excellent practitioners who really knew about TMJ and how to help that condition specifically, I finally got help from these treatments.
2) Diet – Eating regular foods can exacerbate your pain, so have you gone to soft foods yet? If you are on a soft food or liquid diet (or regular food diet, student diet?) you may not be getting adequate nutrition and this can contribute to unwellness. There are also supplements, like magnesium, that can help with headaches.
3) Posture – poor alignment really contributes to TMJD. Being a student, you may be hunched over books a lot and this could be worsening your situation. I saw an excellent TMJ physio who really helped me. For me, staying in a correct postural alignment is really important in keeping out of pain and fatigue. The physio also guided me toward relaxing the muscles through application of moist heat (dry heat is less effective), jaw exercises and diaphragmatic breathing. All this helps loosen up tight muscles that contribute to pain and fatigue. Trigger points are usually a problem for people with TMJ and lock pain into place so this may be something that is worth addressing.
4) Night clenching:
I didn’t think I clenched either – but turns out I was wrong. I’d look further into this as you are waking up in so much pain. If you are in fact clenching, there is a variety of things you can do to improve it (feel free to ask if you’d like details).
5) Ultra low frequency tens machine for the jaw. This can really help your muscles to relax. They can cost a pretty penny and aren't always covered though. Most good NM dentists will have a home version that they allow their patients to try out for a while. Perhaps you could try this and see if it helps.
6) pain killers – none of the pain killers you mentioned worked for me either. The only thing that was able to dent my pain was oxcodone, which I was extremely careful about using. I found I could take 5mg – very small amount and make it more effective by adding caffeine. First you may want to try AC&C or Tylenol 3’s from your doctor.
I really hope you can get some answers soon and find some relief in the meantime. Try and remember there are people like me who have been mired in pain, fearing there was no way out, but have found relief and recovered. It’s a tough road, especially when you are suffering, but don’t give up. Find the best specialists, travel if necessary, and try as many things as possible to help relieve your pain until you do. Hopefully, it’s not too long before your biggest issue is deciding which school club to join
I’m pulling for you – hang in there!