I've currently got 5.2.10 on my centos 5.5 server.
I downloaded 5.2.17 archive, ./configure, ./make and ./make install
The installation completed successfully, with no errors but php -v still shows 5.2.10.
Installing packages from source by hand is frowned upon for this reason. It WILL make a mess out of your system.
In other words, do not do that. It is bad.
If you cant find at least a SRPM somewhere that you can rebuild (which I was able to by the way), take the spec file from the closest version you can find and version bump it to the one you want.