Treatment

It's not currently possible to cure spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), but research is ongoing to find new treatments.

Treatment and support is available to manage the symptoms and help people with the condition have the best possible quality of life.

A team of different healthcare professionals will be involved in your or your child's care. They'll help make a care plan outlining the support and treatments you may need.

Feeding and diet help

It's important for people with SMA, especially children, to get the right nutrients. This will help with healthy growth and development.

A dietitian can offer advice about feeding and diet.

If you or your child has difficulty feeding or swallowing, a feeding tube may sometimes be needed.

Several types of tube can be used, such as a tube attached directly to the stomach through the skin of the tummy (gastrostomy tube), or a tube passed through the nose and down the throat (nasogastric tube).

Breathing help

There are several treatments for the breathing problems that can affect people with SMA.

These include:

You may be advised to have vaccinations against flu and pneumonia to reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill from these infections.

Assistive equipment

If you or your child have difficulty moving, an occupational therapist or physiotherapist can provide advice and support.

For example, they can advise you about things such as:

Find out more about household gadgets and equipment to make life easier.

The Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK charity also has more advice about day-to-day living with SMA.

Exercises and stretches

Exercises and stretches can help maintain strength and stop joints becoming stiff.

A physiotherapist can suggest some exercises to try.

The amount of exercise you or your child can do will depend on your condition, but it's best to try to stay as active as possible.

Treatments for spine problems

Some children with SMA develop an unusually curved spine (scoliosis).

Treatments for this include:

Read more about treatments for scoliosis in children.

Medicines

Medicines that are used to treat some types of SMA include:

Your treatment team will advise on whether these medicines are suitable for you or your child. This depends on the type of SMA and you or your child's age and symptoms.

Read more about medicines for SMA from Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK

Research into new treatments

Research is being carried out into possible new treatments for SMA.

You can ask your medical team about ongoing clinical trials into new treatments. You can also check the database of clinical trials for SMA to find out about current research.

Page last reviewed: 4 May 2020
Next review due: 4 May 2023