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Pain after pressing on jaw joint

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For almost 8 months now, my TMJ has been bothering me. It all started after I started pressing on my jaw joints one night and stirred them up -- the right one hurt first, for about a week, and then calmed down before the left one popped and started hurting. And its been off an on ever sense. The disc in my right joint has been displaced, but it doesn't bother me. Its my left joint that's killing me. It doesn't pop or anything while chewing, but it "crackles", almost every time I swallow, especcially when my jaw hurts. I think it got bad after I started tensing my jaw to make this crackling noise ... it started to hurt after a while, but then it started to feel slightly better every time I tensed it, so i think I tensed it and made it crackle for months on end before realizing that it was tensing the joint that was causing the pain.

I've been able to stop tensing it, and the pain dies down, but its like the jaw hasn't healed. At any moment its capable of crackling and hurting again -- if I sleep on my left side, the jaw can start to hurt... heck, even turning my head to my side and facing down and not LAYING on anything can hurt the joint. I've tried not tensing the joint before but even then, eventually, stress will get it tense on its own because of my myofascial pain syndrome, I think.

I'm beginning to worry that this is permenant -- that my jaw will NEVER stop crackling and will never heal.

The thing is, its not like actually biting with the jaw or anything -- that's fine. It's like "tensing" muscles in the side of my neck that stirs it up. The pain is constant and lasts for weeks straight.

I have mouth guards, and although they help with griding teeth, they don't seem to do anything for the left joint crackling itself.

Does anyone know what's happening in this thing? Is it the ligaments? Cartilage? Is it something permenant or will it heal? After 8 months my worry is getting frantic... I have this pain and burning as a constant companion day in and day out, only because one night I pressed on my jaw joint. Can anyone help me?
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