For the life of me I cannot see how swelling is protecting the knee, surely it's untreated swelling that leads to joint damage. My left knee was allowed to reach 27" in circumference, all a bove the knee cap, before I finally had an open synovectomy. Apparently I sprayed a huge amount of synovial fluid over the surgeon when he cut in -
- served him right for mucking me around for a year during which it only grew like Topsy - and he had to cut out a huge amount of solidified synovial fluid. The pics are in medical text books, my one claim to fame. My knee began swelling in April 97 and the op was in Feb 2002, still without anyone realising I had some form of inflammatory arthritis, rheumatologists included. It worked so well it was repeated 18 months later.
The medication has finally put an end to most of the inflammation though it still has a go at me every now and then, so that is when I take the diclofenac.
I hope you can get your immune system under better control, I hope the sulphasalzine will be strong enough to do that but don't be afraid to add in another medication if required. The untreated inflammation is not to be recommended for the long-term health of your joints - it leads to irreparable damage and possibly OA (which is a harsher pain). Right, fizzing fingers, off to re-splint. Ah, the sexy sound of ripping velcro . . . DD