Sickle cell disease (SCD), which affects approximately 100,000 individuals in the USA and more than 3 million worldwide, is caused by mutations in the βb globin gene that result in sickle hemoglobin production. Sickle hemoglobin polymerization leads to red blood cell sickling, chronic hemolysis and vaso-occlusion. Acute and chronic pain as well as end-organ damage occur throughout the lifespan of individuals living with SCD resulting in significant disease morbidity and a median life expectancy of 43 years in the USA. In this review, we discuss advances in the diagnosis and management of four major complications: acute and chronic pain, cardiopulmonary disease, central nervous system disease and kidney disease. We also discuss advances in disease-modifying and curative therapeutic options for SCD. The recent availability of L-glutamine, crizanlizumab and voxelotor provides an alternative or supplement to hydroxyurea, which remains the mainstay for disease-modifying therapy. Five-year event-free and overall survival rates remain high for individuals with SCD undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant using matched sibling donors. However, newer approaches to graft-versus-host (GVHD) prophylaxis and the incorporation of post-transplant cyclophosphamide have improved engraftment rates, reduced GVHD and have allowed for alternative donors for individuals without an HLA-matched sibling. Despite progress in the field, additional longitudinal studies, clinical trials as well as dissemination and implementation studies are needed to optimize outcomes in SCD.