This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
A bunion signifies a distortion of the metatarsal joint of the [great toe; which is thrown outwards, so that the head of the bone projects and forms a swelling on the inner side of the foot. The skin covering it is very thin, sometimes thicker from inflammation, or from the development of a bursa underneath. This complaint is produced, partly by the use of tight boots, which cramp the toes together, and force the great toe outwards, and it is partly the consequence of a weak, flattened state of the foot, which throws the extremity of the metatarsal bone forward, and the toe outwards. The ligaments of the joints are thus stretched .and thickened, the joint is rendered unnaturally prominent, and subjected to pressure and friction, a bursa forms over it, and there is a constant state of tenderness and pain, subject to fits of inflammation.
The patient must wear proper shoes or boots, so arranged as not to press on the tender part. Mr. Key recommends that the great toe be kept in its place, by means of a partition in the stocking like the finger of a glove, and a partition of strong leather fixed in the sole of the shoe. A mercurial plaster on soft leather often gives great comfort. If the bursa inflame, it must be treated by rest, leeches, and poultices, in order to avoid suppuration and the necessity of a puncture, which is, sure to lead to an inveterate fistula.