I started out with a commitment to myself that I would wear them full time for 3 mths and if that did not get me to a point where I felt much better I was going for surgery... I was almost pain free in August of last year after starting to wear them in May. I then started glucosamine and calcium/magnesium supplements which I also heard about on this site and got rid of the last little pain. I think you could achieve this too, if you haven't yet tried the birks??
I felt mysel identifying with your pain, and the main reason I responded to your post was that you seem to have some questions regarding this surgery (concerns about pain after surgery,etc.). Many people have posted in the past year to this PF site regarding this endoscopic surgery and also traditional surgery. You should read every single post (in the surgery message area) and all the past and present posts you can access on this site. People have some real scary experiences and I have yet to read where someone is pain free after surgery - some are a lot worse.... and 2-4 weeks of pain would seem very short compared to some who tell of years of pain following surgery. Again, it is strictly your feet and your decision but when you asked if anyone has had EPF surgery, it seemed possible you haven't read all these past posts yet - and it is such a big irreversable step.
Good luck to you whatever you finally decide and if you'd like more info on the birks just e-mail me direct. Diane R.