My first bunion surgery was unique, as I had more pain afterward, but like you, I asked the doctor (podiatrist) if I should be wearing a splint to hold that toe straight. He said, much to my surprise, that they really didn't make a difference either way. But he did tell me to really bend that toe back, quite forcibly, to break up the scar tissue in the sesamoid area. I think that's why I'm having the problems I'm having now. After constantly going to him complaining of the pain & being put on anti-inflammatories, my toe also started to "drift" back over. Five months after the first surgery he did a revision, said he'd never seen scar tissue like my body produced & re-cut the bone. After going back to work, I think for three weeks I was painfree, then one day, it came back. Long story short, after going to a specialist I found out I had severe arthritis in the joint & the sesamoid bones, had them removed & the bone fused, am now scheduled for my third try to successfully fuse the bone, last two haven't healed.
My mom had both her feet successfully done 20 years ago & she said they never told her to roughly move that toe back & forth to break up scar tissue. To this day, I think that's what caused my problems. I should have gone to an orthopedic specialist in the first place, but my primary physician said it was "no big deal", a simple, routine surgery, HA!