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J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2009 Jul;13(3):246-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2008.04.046. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

An investigation into the regulation of intra-cranial pressure and its influence upon the surrounding cranial bones.

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The aim of this study is to present a rational coherent hypothesis to explain the palpable involuntary movements of the cranium. The arterial and venous anatomy inside and around the skull and spinal column presents a complete vascular system with the capacity to regulate intra-cranial pressure to a level of equilibrium slightly higher than atmospheric pressure. Variations in cerebrospinal fluid (csf) pressure control the volume of blood draining through the cavernous sinus and hence into the inter-vertebral venous plexus in relation to the jugular vein. Stable intra-cranial pressure is maintained by a controlled release of venous blood through the inter-vertebral venous plexus (slow) and the jugular vein (fast) in the cavernous sinus. Any distortion of the skull from its healthy state will lead to reduced intra-cranial volume. The process of release from the state of compression has been interpreted as "cranial rhythm" but may be a mechanical adjustment increasing the internal volume of the skull, aided by the continual maintenance of stable intracranial pressure. This involuntary movement is capable of being assisted manually.

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