How does the pain of foot arthritis first appear?

Discomfort/swelling. Most arthritis starts out as soreness/ stiffness. You may see or feel swelling or puffiness to the joint. It usually starts out as an infrequent discomfort, but gradually become more frequent. Dr l.
Several ways. You will usually see swelling, redness and pain. It can go to painful motion or decreased motion with deformity of the joint.